Oh, look–a cardinal perched on that branch! Such a brilliant red. Against the foliage he reminds me of Christmas…What fun we had last year when Sophie* was here…Her school’s science fair is this week…I wonder how she’ll do? ‘Wish we could attend. Maybe Sophie could give her presentation on Skype…
Now how did I get from cardinals to Skype? Well, you see the progression. That’s what often happens when the mind isn’t focused on a task: attention wanders from one thing to another.
Sometimes thoughts run in a positive direction, sometimes not.
Research has proved that positive thinking is actually good for us, providing:
- A longer life span
- Less depression
- Less stress
- Fewer colds
- Better physical and mental health
- Less risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- The ability to cope better during hardship**
But oh, how easy it is to fall into the negativity trap, and before we know it, we’re wallowing in despair.
King Solomon knew the danger we face. “Above all else,” he warned, “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
In other words, get smart about your thoughts and think about your thinking!
So, using Solomon’s imagery, let’s imagine ourselves as guards over our hearts. When a negative thought comes knocking, what should we do?
How about demolishing it with positive rebuttal from scripture? Here are a few verses that have helped me:
- Genesis 35:3 (NIV) – “He answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Jacob’s affirmation is a reminder that God has answered me many times in the past. He’s provided his calming presence, all-wise guidance, and loving care my entire life. I can trust him for all my tomorrows.
- John 13:7 (NIV) — “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Granted, applying this statement of Jesus to my circumstances a few years ago took the verse out of context. Even so, the morning I came across this scripture, it was exactly what I needed to hear.
- Romans 11:36 (NLT) – “Everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.” I have returned to this verse countless times when events don’t make sense.
In addition to scriptural rebuttal, we can turn our thoughts into conversation with God. First, consider the outcome of a thought-thread such as this:
I don’t know how we’re going to get everything done by Friday. If So-and-So would only do her share, we’d be fine. Why did she have to be put on our team? It’s not fair that the three of us have to work extra hard to pick up her slack!
Can you feel the frustration and worry building?
But what if, as soon as I realize my thoughts are spiraling downward, I included God in the conversation:
I don’t know how we’re going to get everything done by Friday…But you do, God! How thankful I am that you’re on this team with me. Guide my way to Friday! And grant me wisdom in dealing with So-and-So. Show me how to help her become a contributing team member.
That’s much more productive than limiting the participants to me, myself, and I.
The best news yet? God Almighty is downright eager to come alongside and assist no matter what situation I face. He’ll gladly come alongside you, too.
We don’t have to stand guard over our hearts alone.
* * * * * * * * * *
Forgive me, Father, for allowing negativity to enter my mind and wreak havoc. When this happens again, help me to use scripture as rebuttal, and include you in my thought processes. Thank you for your help to turn my mind from destructive to constructive thinking, so that I may enjoy fully the God-enhanced life you offer.
*Sophie is our seven-year old granddaughter who, sad-to-say, lives seven states away.
** from www.mayoclinic.org