“What a wonderful world…”

What do you think of when you hear the opening line of this song?

Any number of movies from the last thirty years that it’s been featured in? I do. Until not long ago, I’d have described this song as a typical, cliché song from movies that was nice, but I couldn’t really tell you much else.

Thing is, this song is actually a gem hidden in plain sight. I say that because many times when we listen to music, we don’t listen to the lyrics, but take a minute to read these ones – and carefully if I might ask!

“I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world”

What a Wonderful World, performed by Louis Armstrong, written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss

Would you say this song is about optimism? Of looking at those around us and seeing community? Of living life in a wonderful way, with a wonderful outlook? Of looking at the future, and knowing how good it’s going to be? I would.

This song was written specifically for Louis Armstrong to sing because one of the songwriters, George Weiss, was inspired by Armstrong’s ability to bring all kinds of different people together. Released on October 18th, 1967, it’s interesting that the song wasn’t popular in North America until about 20 years later when it started being featured in various film and television.

Now, can I ask you to answer an honest question or two? Yes? Great! Thanks!

Does that song stir up feelings of wistfulness? Even a small bit?

Whether you’ve had many moments or not in life where this could’ve been the soundtrack for those particular moments, these words do a lot. They make us hope, smile, and remember fond moments. They encourage us to be positive, to look up, to look at the glass half full. These are important things!

And if you just rolled your eyes or cringed at my gooey or clichéd sentiments there, that’s okay. It doesn’t make it any less true.

I so believe in this idea of optimism, of taking time to dig out the good amidst the yuck, because that’s what it takes to live grinning these days. If that’s hard to do many times, that’s okay. In fact, that’s pretty regular, but know that it’s worth it. Know that it’s worth so much because it cost so much. Know that there’s only one reason for that: Jesus.

That may seem a Sunday school answer to some people, but again I’ll say: it doesn’t make it any less true, because I’m not just talking about optimism with no grounding here. I’m talking about joy – that’s what optimism rooted in Christ is.

Despite anything else we might be told, despite anything else we may or may not see, despite anything we feel, despite anything we might tell ourselves, Jesus Christ is the reason for this wonderful world, and it’s pure joy to hang on to that.

When we choose to dig for the wonder and goodness, when we choose to look closely and honestly around us (even if we’re not exactly sure of what we’re searching for), we’ll find it. That’s how He’s designed it – to be straightforward yet requiring some effort, requiring some faith. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

That’s what this series will do: search in the world around us, in order to take joy in something wonderful each week, knowing that it was Jesus Christ who put it there and enables us to use it.

I hope this encourages you to look for the wonder in our world, to learn beyond doubt that it’s there, and to know who put it there. That’s the thing I most want to share because I know it’s what’s most true.

And so I write to you, “What a Wonderful World!”

One thought on “What A Wonderful World!

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