Some time ago, the phrase “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was heard everywhere. The lyrics of this popular song seemed to say that all we had to do for a better life was quit worrying about anything and decide to be happy. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.
At first glance this passage seems to offer the same kind of advice. Rejoice, be gentle, and do not worry about anything. This can seem unrealistic during Advent, especially for those busy with Christmas preparations, present buying and extra social events. And for others who are experiencing grief, loneliness or anxiety, this joy can seem out of reach.
Luckily, Paul gives more specific instruction on how to follow his advice. Rejoicing in the Lord is different from simply deciding to be happy. This joy comes from experiencing God’s loving presence in our lives, whether we are happy or not. The instruction to be gentle requires us to slow down and take time with others. And Paul’s prescription for worry is to spend time with God in prayer.
We may not understand how this can work, but Paul promises that the gift we will receive is God’s peace.
God of peace, help us find true joy in our relationship with you. Amen. — JN