Kermit Tyler’s name is obscure, but his four words, “Don’t worry about it,” uttered on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 are indelible historic milestones in United States history. You may have missed it when his passing on February 25 was noted in the news, and so I recall his involvement with one of the worst quirks of our national history.
On Dec. 7, 1941, as Hawaiians and the United States' sprawling military in Pearl Harbor edged into a balmy tropical morning, two novice radar operators on the northern end of Oahu reported a blip on their screen indicating the approach of a air squadron of perhaps 50 planes (in fact, there were hundreds coming). Air Force First Lieutenant Kermit Tyler confused the strange radar blip with a flight of friendly U.S. B-17s due in from the mainland, and he replied with four calming words that would ring in infamy: “Don’t worry about it.” Hundreds of Japanese planes droned on bent on destroying the U.S. naval fleet anchored Pearl Harbor.
In that zone of radio silence, Japanese lead commander Mitsuo Fuchida listened to the uninterrupted Sunday morning music aired over the Hawaii radio station, a signal that the Americans would be caught completely off guard. The attack need not have surprised us but for those four calm but totally erroneous words: “Don’t worry about it.” All Pearl Harbor should have been worrying about it, but the moment passed, and, while much of the military slept, lulled by the balmy breezes, fair weather and four infamous words, the day of infamy dawned.
Today, many still slumber under the deceptive working of spiritually-camouflaged surprise attack. Christian witness and the Word of God are twin warning sirens against Satan's war effort.
First-alert believers should never be in short supply. They are watchmen on the wall with solemn responsibilities. “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)
Psalm 19:11 outlines the alerting quality of God’s Word noting His law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear and judgments, and adds, “Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”
Death is often a sudden attack, and mortal departure is reviewed in Ecclesiastes 8:8: “No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.”
Death, sickness, troubles, and misfortunes may all be stealth attacks—unseen, unexpected and striking instantly—but in Christ, we are ready for anything. Not knowing what any day may bring forth, “We, walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
If there is no salvational faith in Christ, we should indeed be worried about our destiny and even temporal future. Heaven and Hell are in the balance. Much of today’s errant theology advises, “Don’t worry about it” when we should be doubly concerned.
Conversely, believers may rest in the fact that nothing ambushes God’s people, and, while not knowing what another day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1), we understand that each sunrise assures us that “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
The old worship song “O Worship the King” covers the issue:
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies, how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!