June 12, 2006

Don’t Worry; Be Happy!
By Pastor George Van Alstine

Bobby McFerrin’s simple reggae-style melody seems to bubble with optimism—â€?Don’t worry; be happy!â€? You just have to smile when your hear it.

If only it were that simple! You’re sad? Depressed? Don’t stay there another second. Just decide to be happy, and you will be.

But how can you decide such a thing? It seems silly. Our dark moods seem to be the natural response to depressing circumstances. You feel this way because of what’s happening to you. Because the circumstances are beyond your control, your emotional response seems beyond your control as well. Only a fool would say “Don’t worry; be happy!â€? in a situation like the one you’re going through.

Psalm 16 in the Old Testament is just about as optimistic as Bobby McFerrin’s song. And a key element in the psalm’s formula for happiness is a decision to be happy:
“I set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.â€? (verses 8-9)

Some people choose not to “set the Lordâ€? always before them, and their choice results in unhappiness. They “choose another godâ€? and therefore “multiply their sorrowsâ€? (verse 4). “Another godâ€? may be their attempt to be satisfied with the world’s treasures and pleasures. But the happy person of Psalm 16 says by contrast, “The Lord is my chosen portionâ€? (verse 5).

This basic decision makes all the difference. Because of it, the psalmist can say:
“I have a goodly heritageâ€? (verse 6)
“My heart is glad, and my soul rejoices:“You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fulness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.â€? (verse 11)

So if you make this basic choice and then “setâ€? yourself on it day by day, and moment by moment you will have guaranteed happiness. Your feelings will not be at the whim of circumstances. You can constantly and truthfully say to yourself, “Don’t worry; be happy!â€?

It really is that simple!