There is a lot being said lately about mental health which is a good thing. One of those is “how we think impacts how we feel” which is the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). For instance, if all you consume is news which is mainly negative, then most of your thoughts will also be negative which is going to have a direct impact on how you feel about your life and the rest of the world. News outlets know that people pay most attention to what threatens them. That’s why you see more bad news than good news. However, if we focus our mind on more positive things years of research and experience tells us many of us will feel better.
The apostle Paul challenged us to something similar. He had this to say in Philippians 4:6-9:
6“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Wow, he really takes the concept of CBT up a notch. First, we don’t sweep our problems and everything that is negative under the rug. Instead, we bring that to God continually and be thankful for Him and what He has done. Second, we experience God’s peace as we do so. Thirdly, our minds are to dwell on what’s positive. Fourth, we learn from those that model this and model it to others.
Relationship with God and Worries
Some of us continually struggle with anxiety and depression. You can’t just snap your fingers to make it go away. What Paul is telling us is to again and again put our problems and our worries in the right perspective and give it over to God. It’s never a one-and-done thing, but a habit change everyday. Instead of letting them consume our thinking we challenge our minds to remember that there is no problem too big for God. He can handle them, so give them over to Him.
We can have God’s peace as we rest in His promises and the truth of His Word. Our minds want to default to a pit of despair and continue to worry, but we must come back to verse 6 again, then rest again in God’s peace. Eventually, this can become a normal place for all of us.
Note, this is not about the absence of worry, but God’s peace and other positive qualities occupying are mind, look at verse 8. Think about watching movies and TV shows, which most of us are doing lately. Instead of us being passive about watching those we can engage our minds with the things that we see are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, and excellent. We can come in agreement with God as we watch and celebrate those good things. We can celebrate that when we see others say and do those things. We can also think about how we can do those things.
Relationship with Others
We can look at Paul’s life in the New Testament to learn how he did it, but also think of others in your life who are good at exemplifying verses 6-8. We can learn from their examples and model that behavior ourselves.
There is so much fear and anxiety in our world. If we lift those to God, dwell in truth and think of what is good in the world then we can be lights in this dark world. Our hope is in Jesus. So stop reading and watching too much media and focus on what’s positive!