Hakuna Matata

hakuna pixabayYesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said “Hakuna matata.” That’s it. No warthogs, no lions, just the phrase. (But, Iris, if you’re reading this, I can hear your voice singing in my head!) Perhaps that Swahili phrase, roughly translated “no worries,” should be singing in my head all the time.

“Hakuna” means “there is not here,” and “matata” is Swahili for “problems.” I don’t think we live lives free of problems. Worry, though, is another matter—the matter of what we do in our minds with our problems. I love this quote from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (Zondervan 2002).

“When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that’s called worry. When you think about God’s Word over and over in your mind, that’s meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate! You just need to switch your attention from your problems to Bible verses. The more you meditate on God’s Word, the less you will have to worry about.”

I’d like to add that the more we think of our problems in light of God’s word, the more convinced we can become that we have no worries after all. Consider these four familiar passages:

  • “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
  • So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

While not scripture, these wise words, attributed to Corrie ten Boom, call us all to peace and trust as well:

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

And so, instead of losing any of your strength to worry today, I hope you will remember the awesome love and power of our God. Then you can shout within your soul, “Hakuna matata!”

 

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Filtering Our Lives Through Faith*

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Does your faith ever waver? The ninth chapter of Mark tells about a father whose son needed to be healed. After he described the boy’s condition to Jesus, the father said, “If you can do anything, help us.” (Doesn’t that sound like us? “I’m not sure you can, but maybe you can. I’ll cover my bases by at least asking. So, in case you would like to, if you are able …”)

Jesus’ answer to that father is the same as what he says to us, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NASB).

How did that father respond? Here’s what Mark 9:24 (AMP) recounts, “At once the father of the boy gave an eager, piercing, inarticulate cry with tears and he said, ‘Lord, I do believe! Help my unbelief.’”

We can make that cry too. “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus healed the man’s son. He will help us too, but we need to increase our faith. How do we do that? We are never, this side of heaven, going to be perfect in our faith, yet there is a way to make it grow.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 NASB). Faith comes by hearing the word of God. The problem is, of course, that we can hear without paying attention. Remember getting called on in class? I do. Sometimes I heard the teacher’s voice, but had no idea what she had asked. We need to pay attention to God’s word, the kind of attention that comes from wanting to know what he says.

Then we need to let those words sink in. If we don’t “pay it any mind,” as we say in the South, we’re sure to forget it. It’s like telling the preacher, “Good sermon today. It really touched me.” Sometimes, later in the day, when someone asks me, “What was the sermon about today,” I have to answer, “Well, I don’t remember, but it was good.” If we don’t meditate on God’s word, it might sound good, but it won’t do any good until it reaches our hearts and produces faith.

I deedoubledare you to hear God’s word this week. I mean get into it, read it, listen, and meditate. Try starting with Hebrews, Chapter 11 (Yes, the whole chapter.) You’ll see what people who believed God did by faith. You’ll read that, “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV).

*For the month of December, each post will be an abridged excerpt from Every Wednesday Morning, written by my mom, Beth Smith. If you want to read all 64 devotional essays in their full length form, you can grab a copy of her book at etsy.com  

 

 

Steps to Happiness

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I skimmed a book last night, one that described a plan for greater happiness. It listed several steps the author felt were sure to increase inner joy. While I wasn’t too crazy about the godless slant, I found the suggestions interesting, because each one corresponded to instructions our Lord has given us:

The first step was to be still and learn to meditate. If you have any doubt that God wants us to learn to quiet our hearts and turn our thoughts to him, please take a look at last week’s blog. Do you spend any time just being silent each day, letting your body rest while your thoughts turn to the One who loves you most? If not, as the old commercial said, “Try it! You’ll like it!” Set a timer for 10 minutes and see how it goes.

Step two was to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Do a Bible Gateway search on the word “thank” in the NIV version, and you’ll get 133 responses. Here’s just one to consider today. “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:13b-20). You can read about Steve’s very practical advice on giving thanks here. Of course, it’s not a bad idea to extend that attitude of gratitude to those around you as well.

Another word of advice was to slow down. I couldn’t agree more. We live in a hustle bustle, hurry-up-and-make-it-on-your-own world. But the Bible says our Lord wants to give us rest. (We can start by keeping the Sabbath.) He also asks us to wait on his timing. That lines up with the author’s chapter on patience. Slow down. Lighten up. Those have been hard lessons for me to learn. I’m still learning them, in fact, and have written about them several times including, here and here.

The author suggested that we need to learn to be better at giving and receiving. Surely the greatest key to a life of joy or happiness is the receiving of God’s grace. And how many other gifts does God have for those of us who are willing to receive them? Are we listening? Paying attention as our Lord speaks and leads us and offers to meet our every need? And then, of course, the Bible has plenty to say about giving to others with great cheer.

I’m blessed with a healthy dose of happiness. From birth? From upbringing? From a host of happy circumstances, or is that merely my happy perspective on things? I can’t tell you with any certainty. I do know that I agree with the title of this song by Ira Stanphill, “Happiness is to know the Savior,” and following our Lord’s advice in all the areas mentioned above certainly can’t hurt!