Don’t Worry, Be Happy? Seriously?

Luke 10:40-41, “But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I probably give it way too much credit. In fact, it has become my standard answer for almost all of my problems. If you don’t believe me, then you should listen to some of the things I say on a regular basis. It’s the reason I don’t get a good night’s sleep. It’s the reason my back hurts. It’s the reason behind my headaches. It’s why I feel tired all the time. Fighting with my kids? Arguing with my wife? Tension in the home? You guessed it. Same reason. When I feel impatient. When my words are far from kind. When loving the unlovable is the last thing on mind. Again, it takes all the blame. The culprit? Worry. In fact, you might be inclined to think that if I had no worries, I would have no problems.

For what had seemed like hours Martha had been off in the other room laboring both unseen and unappreciated. To make matters worse, her sister, Mary, had left her to do all the work by herself. “Any moment now, Mary is going to get up and come help me,” Martha kept thinking to herself. But everytime Martha peered through the door Mary was still sitting. What started out as mild irritation slowly reached the boiling point. Annoyance became anger. Frustration became fury. Until what had begun as words of welcome now gave way to words of complaint and criticism. “Lord, do You not care…tell her to help me.”

In the aftermath of her meltdown, a shroud of silence now covers the room. Martha is looking at Jesus. Mary is looking at Martha. A few of the disciples are looking at the floor. Everyone is waiting for His reply to her outburst and demand. I wonder what was going through Martha’s mind at that very moment. She had probably imagined and rehearsed Jesus’ response countless times. But I doubt that the answer she received had ever crossed her mind. Jesus responds to her personally (He calls her by name). Jesus responds to her lovingly (He corrects…He does not condemn). Jesus responds to her truthfully (He focuses on her real need). “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered…

Worried. And bothered. Jesus drew Martha’s attention to the heart of the matter. Her mind was divided (worry) and His words had been lost in the noise (bother). In the beginning Jesus had her full attention. But at some point after opening the door Martha had shifted her attention elsewhere. The eyes that had once been fixed on her Guest were now focused on other things. In her mind she had made serving more important than the Savior. The result? A divided mind, i.e. worry. To further complicate things, the shift in focus had created distance. With Jesus now in the other room, the sound of His words was soon drowned out by the noise of her service. Jesus was talking but she couldn’t hear anymore. His voice had become lost in the riot of things that Martha now deemed more important. The result? Noise, i.e. bother.

It’s not all that different for me. The symptoms may vary in my life but the cause is the same. Worry and bother are the fruit of separation and noise. I lose my focus on Jesus. I allow distance to come between us. I turn up the volume on things that don’t matter. The result? All those things I listed it in the first paragraph. The answer? Turn back to Jesus. In reality, that’s all that Jesus did for Martha. Think about it. No words of anger. No voice of condemnation. Instead He calls her by name. Twice. Why? To get her full attention back on Him. So often we want God to deal with the problem, the circumstances that we mistakenly believe are the source of our worry and bother. But instead, Jesus lovingly reminds us of our real need. When responsibility pulls us in different directions, when the demands of daily living scream for our attention, when we feel all alone and abandoned…Jesus reminds us that what we truly need is to look to Him.