Do you remember Bob Marley’s Don’t Worry-Be Happy song?
In every life we have some trouble When you worry you make it double Don’t worry, be happy Ain’t got no place to lay your head Somebody came and took your bed Don’t worry, be happy
In James’ letter to believers he asked the question “Is any one of you in trouble?” Then he goes to the best place possible to deal with it first. Don’t worry be happy isn’t necessarily wrong. It just that it doesn’t really get to the inner soul issues we face when we’re in trouble. I mean, do we think the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary children think don’t worry be happy will help them?
Here’s what James actually said.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. James 5:13 NIV
Now this is the only place in the entire NT where this word for trouble is used. It means “suffering through tough times, not related to physical problems.” This is the time when there isn’t enough money to pay the bills. When the storm rolls through and throws your car all over the parking lot or destroys your home or business, James says pray.
Even when our friends are acting like jerks and destroying the friendship, he’s encouraging us to pray. Later on, he’ll talk about having physical problems in our lives. But, whatever the trouble, James urges us to face God in that time of trouble.
Songs are good and can be fun and I’m not trying to put Bob down, but dealing with trouble isn’t that shallow. James is teaching we don’t have to handle it on our own with a song, or a stiff upper lip, as the English would say.
When the rug is being pulled out from under our lives, pray! That’s not too difficult to understand, but notice what is not said.
We can look all over the page, even all over the Bible, and we will not find the verse we would like to be there. “Is any of you in trouble? Pray and God will take that trouble away!” It simply isn’t there. As a matter of fact, in James 1:2-4, he says trouble is part of life, but in the midst of it, we have a choice.
We can allow God to use it (however he does that) to mold us into who He wants us to be, or we can allow it to beat us down into something less.
What thoughts do you have on including God in our troubles—something of which Paul writes that many of his readers didn’t do? For me, I love how God is right there in the trouble with me. I’ve got company and so do you! We’re not alone or abandoned in our trouble.