I miss the bahala na attitude of the Philippines. While some could construe this as a fatalistic, pessimistic mindset, it’s real meaning is a resting trust in God’s providential leading and ordaining of circumstances. While living in the Philippines I witnessed many Filipino friends live out Jesus’ mandate to let today’s own troubles be sufficient for today (Matthew 6:34) in a most uplifting, positive sense of bahala na.
Rosalinda Morgan on her blog post (https://rosalindarmorgan.com/2013/09/03/what-is-the-meaning-of-bahala-na/) explains it well:
“Bahala na” is a philosophical expression Filipinos used when they are confronted with problems. They will say “Bahala Na”, meaning “come what may,” “whatever will be, will be,” ‘leave it to God’, like the Spanish word “que sera, sera”.
“Bahala na”,comes from the phrase Bathala na, where Bathala means God. Bahala also means trust or custody. Na is used as an adverb of time just like already. So it can literally be translated as God already or God will take care already. It is used in the context of “Trust in God”, “God will take control”,“Leave it to God” because God will provide. In a sense, it can be construed as a negative attitude in life, a defeatist or fatalistic attitude where you are only willing to do so much and leave the rest to God. Some people believe it makes you irresponsible, careless and lazy. On the other hand, it stops you from worrying about your problem during uncertain times. It relieves stress knowing you did everything you could and God will take control of the rest.
The United States culture is filled with people looking for someone else to blame, some lawsuit to file, some entitled attitude to be met at cost to others. Blaming a country, a person, a response time for the spread of covid-19 is senseless really. We would do well to incorporate the positive bahala na attitude into our Western culture. Filipinos, an extremely resilient people who’ve faced many ongoing struggles, as well as seasonal ones such as typhoons, and the random, unpredictable earthquakes live out a positive form of bahala na, accepting what is as the hand of God in their lives, and are not looking for others to sue.
When faced with challenging situations, Filipinos can do a daring act and they leave everything to God hoping God will take care of them. They accept what comes their way, appreciate what they have, and God will take care of the rest. In time of tragedy, they are not easily discouraged. They know they have done their best and with a strong faith, they leave everything to God, knowing God is on their side. True, the term signifies an attitude intended to surrender to fate which can be construed as a negative attitude but it enables them to take a chance and accept what fate has to offer. It can also be viewed as a positive thinking, in the sense that it gives them strength and confidence to tackle any job head on in the hope that everything will turn out for the best if God wills it.
Great peace lies in accepting what is rather than wishing for what is not.
I understand how people are tired of lock downs and restrictions due to the covid-19 virus, but the honest truth is we could be dealing with this for another 18 – 24 months (see https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/30/health/report-covid-two-more-years/index.html).
Rather than grouse and storm on state capitol steps with rifles, swastikas, etc. (https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-nw-michigan-militia-coronavirus-protests-20200502-l4tmmr74oze7tmo3dwwkfy2vpy-story.html), file lawsuits and blame others, let’s embrace what is as the hand of God working in our affairs, let us look for how to practice contentment and giving of thanks in all things. Let us encourage our neighbors rather than disparage and rant.
(Read 1 Peter 3: 8 – 12 – Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called…. And
Colossians 3: 12 – 17 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.)
God’s holy word, tells us God directs the affairs of humanity. We can trust in His leading and providence. 2 Chronicles 10:15 says, so the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the Lord might fulfill His Word.
Daniel 2: 20 – 22 states “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
Romans 13:1 tells us Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God
There is great peace in knowing that Christ, our solid rock, is in control of all that happens. Faith in God’s promises is not expressed in human passivity but in active obedience.
Everyday, every moment of our life, no matter what is happening in our world personally, familially, nationally, globally, is a good time to set our mind on things above (Colossians 3) and seek Him first in all things (Matthew 6:33).