Heathdale flower 10th December 2020

Don't Worry!

The distinction between being happy for the sake of being happy and being able to see the good even in the midst of difficult circumstances is a distinctive that followers of Jesus should have.

Heathdale flower

Last weekend I had one of those flashback moments! As I was listening to the radio the song by Bobby Farris, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ was played. In its day, it was a huge hit and has often been described as the biggest one hit wonder song ever!!!

This song seemed to catch most people’s imaginations. Typically, people would find themselves humming or just singing along to it. T-shirts were produced, car bumper stickers created and even posters encouraged us not to be overcome by life’s difficulties but to focus on being happy and positive. On one level, this is not such bad advice but after a while it can wear a bit ‘thin’. Despite a ‘come what may’ attitude, there was a sense that this song was a little shallow because there are times when ‘being happy’ just doesn’t cut the mustard!

The distinction between being happy for the sake of being happy and being able to see the good even in the midst of difficult or challenging circumstances is a distinctive that followers of Jesus should have because they are able to see life in its full perspective, the way God had intended it to be. Jesus was able to do this at a time when the people were faced with a perplexing, even challenging situation. Jesus was able to see it from a God perspective and this coloured His response.

“When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me. Then those who had seen how the demon-possessed man had been healed by Jesus told others. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Him (Jesus) to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear." (Luke 8:27–29 and 37. The English Standard Version)

The ability to draw breath and look for the good in each moment, even when circumstances are tough or challenging, is something Jesus was able to do. Yet it’s not meant to be just a special ability. He modelled it for us so that we too could exercise this ability every day. As we respond in such a manner we allow God’s character to work in us and through us. When bad things happened in the life of Jesus, He didn’t complain but rather faced each challenge, each tough moment that occurred and viewed such moments through the perspective of the bigger story of God.

In the passage above, we see that after Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, the local people came out to see for themselves. Instead of finding the sight and sound of a wild man, totally out of control and so strong that even chains could not contain him – something that they had grown accustomed too - here was a man sitting peacefully with Jesus, dressed and in his right mind! Notice the words that come next, “they were afraid!” How understandable is their response yet it’s so intriguing. What were they afraid of? A man dressed and in his right mind? A man who was now acting like a sane person?

Their fear was based on the fact that they couldn’t make sense of this scene. It must have been so perplexing to see a man who once was totally uncontrollable now perfectly sane. Struggling to see this scene from a God perspective, the local people also became afraid of the miracle that Jesus performed.

We don’t always see that God is at work but rather we see the things that aren’t in order or are out of place. A characteristic of being human is to draw strength from predictability and events that make sense! You may have had such a moment this year, or even this week in particular, when life has been challenging, when you have seen or encountered something that was not as you anticipated it to be? It may even have been beyond your belief or understanding. How did you initially react? Like most of us you probably were a little taken-a-back, even afraid of what took place.

Such challenges and difficulties did not hinder Jesus. In actual fact, after leaving this place, Jesus went on to perform some of his most wonderful miracles. Jesus never let challenges or difficulties overcome Him. One of life’s truths that we try to impart to our students is that as a follower of Jesus we can have the same attitude of faith; of being undeterred by challenges and tough times but discern God’s hand at work. We need to see things from God’s perspective instead of being fearful. It is then we’ll realise God is at work.