Don’t Worry, Be Humble

  • Pete Johnson
Man praying on top of a snowy mountain

In 1988 American Jazz singer Bobby McFerrin released the hit single “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. It immediately became a chart-topping song. The next year at the 1989 Grammys, the song received awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. It was hailed by critics as being simple yet captivating. One critic noted the song as a “formula for facing life’s trials.”

Worry and anxiety affect most of us. It’s hard to go through life without it. Most worry happens when we encounter an event, or emotion that we have no control over.

Thinking about the immediate issues in our lives, or the future events that might occur can cause us to fixate our thoughts and energy on those events, which in turn leads to sleeplessness, irritability, physical and mental complications, relationship troubles, and even spiritual problems.          

McFerrin’s solution to worrying was simple. Don’t. Just be happy! “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.

Seems easy, but is that really the answer to not worrying, or not being anxious?

The Bible has a different solution for worry and anxiety The Bible, God’s Word, emphasizes the significance of humility in dealing with worry and anxiousness.

The apostle Peter, in his writing of 1 Peter, wrote to believers who were being persecuted for their faith. Peter’s letter was to lead them to a point of trust and faith beyond themselves. Let’s be honest, persecution surely is a major contributor to worry and anxiety.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6–7

Humility is the essential ingredient to overcoming anxiety, fear, and worry. A humility that concedes that we are not in control, that we are not God. That being the case, we are to be continually casting all our worry and fear on Christ.

In a Psychology Today article entitled Let Go, be Happy, Mental Health counselor William Berry writes:

The more control over life one believes he has the happier he is; however, the attempt to inappropriately control events brings unhappiness. The use of control is paradoxical: we believe taking control will bring us security and happiness, yet its overuse causes unhappiness, anxiety, and malaise. In the treatment of clients with addiction problems, depression, marital issues, anxiety, and anger issues a common thread is control.

When we are unable to control events, we worry. We worry over things because it makes us believe that we can control them, the belief that we should be able to control them. Worry then can be related to our own arrogance, and our attempt to be God.

Heavenly wisdom is the opposite of worldly wisdom. The Bible counsels us to humble ourselves and submit to God, the world says to take control by merely just telling yourself not to worry.

Humbling myself and submitting to God is acknowledging that God is God, and I am not. I can’t even control if I will wake up tomorrow morning. If I worry about what may happen before then, I’ll be dead before I’m dead! 

Remembering that submitting to God is not merely because I am unable to control my world, but that your life and the world in which we live are in the hands of a loving and caring father.

A wooden translation of 1 Peter 5:6–7 from the Greek reads like this:

“The anxiety of you having cast upon him, because with Him there is care about you.”

Don’t Worry, Be Humble