In 1994, Walt Disney Studios released the animated version of the film “The Lion King.” I’m sure that we all know the story. The film is about the adventures of a young lion cub named Simba and his struggle to be king of his pride.
There is one part of the story where Simba’s father, Mufasa, is killed through the shady dealings of Simba’s uncle, Scar, who has designs on becoming king himself. Simba is led to believe that he is responsible for his own father’s death and he is forced to run away.
Simba feels that the weight of the world is upon his shoulders, he worries that he will never be as good as his father. He is just about at his lowest ebb when he runs into a little meerkat named Timon and a warthog named Pumbaa. They help him in his depressed state, and, as they sing to him in order to cheer him up, they teach us all a little bit of Swahili. Their life changing philosophy is the phrase “Hakuna Matata” This phrase means “no worries” although some would translate it as “no problems”
Timon and Pumbaa offer Simba a worry free attitude where you just ignore everything except that which makes you feel good. However, our world today gives us many reasons to worry. The resurgence of a global pandemic, a fragile peace in parts of the world, earthquakes and wildfires claiming homes and lives, yes, there are many things for us to worry about. We worry about our children and our grandchildren, our families, our health, our jobs, our finances, global warming, we worry over things that we can control and over things that we can’t control. Timon and Pumbaa seem way off the mark with their Hakuna Matata philosophy – there are plenty of things for us to worry about, let’s be honest, life itself can be worrisome.
So, is worry worth talking about? Jesus thought so. He specifically addressed it in the Sermon on the Mount when he spoke to the crowds who had gathered to listen to him. He clearly believed that it was an important subject.
Why is worrying about things a problem? Common sense tells us that worrying is a waste of time, there are better things to do than worry. Worry drains us of the energy we need to face life every day. Common sense also tells us that worry is futile, we can’t change anything by worrying about it. Hakuna Matata is starting to sound better by the minute.
Experts have estimated that 40% of the things that we worry about will never happen, 30% of our worries are things from the past, 12% of our worries are about our health when nothing is wrong with us, and 10% of our worries are small and petty. That means that only 8% of our worries actually deserve our concern. Worry can negatively affect many things in our lives needlessly.
So, what does Jesus say? He says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” However, it is equally important to note what Jesus does not say. He is not saying that life doesn’t have any problems, He is not saying that everything will turn out right in the end, He is not saying that it’s okay to be reckless and irresponsible. He is not saying “you’re on your own, get on with it.”
So what is he saying? He is saying that we are of ultimate value to God. He says “Look at the birds of the air, your heavenly father feeds them, are you not much more valuable than them?” We are to trust God in the things we can’t control because these are the things we tend to worry about most of all. We are to turn them over to God and thank Him for our blessings. We are to trust that God is ultimately in control of our lives. There is a passage in Philippians Chapter four where St Paul says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” What a fantastic statement. God’s peace is more wonderful than the human mind can imagine. Jesus is saying that God is concerned with everything in our lives, we are valued by God.
I’d like to share a little story with you all, perhaps you may have heard it before, but there again perhaps not.
During an auction, the auctioneer looked at his next lot, an old violin. It was scarred and tattered and he thought that it was hardly worth his while to try and sell this old instrument, but he held it up with a smile and said “what am I bid? Who will start the bidding for me? A pound? Two pounds? Who’ll make it three? Three pounds once, three pounds twice, going, going for three” …… just then, from the back of the room, an old man came forward and picked up the bow, then, wiping the dust off the old violin he began to play. He played a melody as sweet as an angel singing. The music stopped and the auctioneer said in a quiet voice “What am I bid for this old violin? One thousand pounds, two thousand pounds, who’ll make it three?. Three thousand once, three thousand twice, going, going, gone, sold for three thousand pounds.” The people in the auction house gave a round of applause but one man seemed a little vague about it all and said to the auctioneer, “I just don’t understand, what increased its worth?” The auctioneer replied, “The touch of a master’s hand.”
And so it is with us. God touches us each and every day. Jesus tells us that anxious worry is futile. We can’t add anything to our height or increase our life span by worrying about it. He tells us to strive first for the kingdom of God. We are to put God first in our lives and if we do this we will receive His blessing.
Finally, Jesus is saying that during the times when things threaten to overwhelm us, we should break things down into smaller more manageable pieces. We should live one day at a time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will bring worries of its own, today’s worry is enough for today.” Instead plan for tomorrow, think about tomorrow, dream dreams for tomorrow but we shouldn’t allow tomorrow to consume us with worry.
To conclude Simba’s story, I’m sure that you all know that he became the king that he was destined to be with a little help from his friends, and if we leave our worries with Jesus, our greatest friend, then life will be so different for us all.
Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase, it means no worries for the rest of our days.
J Patrick Williams, Vicar in Training