We've all heard the saying, “A penny for your thoughts.” Yet I can’t help but wonder what people would say if they ever truly got to see the many thoughts floating through my mind. Would they be shocked? Appalled? Outraged? They may even simply be amazed at the sheer quantity of things rolling through my mind at the same time. But if we’re honest, there are some thoughts we hope will never be made public, particularly for those of us living with a chronic illness.
When a person deals with suffering on a daily basis, it’s not always easy to stay upbeat and positive. Sometimes, our thoughts can become quite dark. We wonder if life will ever get easier, if we matter, and if God even cares what happens to us. The problem with this line of thinking is that once we begin to have these types of thoughts, it’s hard to stop.
Thankfully, Paul finally reveals the secret to being joyful in Philippians 4:8-9. According to Paul, the way to be filled with joy despite life’s challenges is to think on good things rather than on the bad. Verse eight and nine says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
I know; I know. It’s easier said than done! Anyone living with or taking care of a person who has a chronic illness is constantly faced with challenges and overwhelming situations. Very little of life is easy. We usually have to take life one day at a time because we never know how we will feel tomorrow. The problem is we often fail to do the same thing with our thoughts. When a difficult day turns into difficult weeks, it’s easy to begin to think negatively all the time. Before we get out of bed and we already feel exhausted and in pain, it’s easy to think, “Here we go again! It’s going to be another bad day.” We have to work to not think like this. Every day we must choose to stay positive despite whatever problems come our way.
Now this doesn’t mean we should pretend like our lives are a bed of roses or that we will never grow discouraged. Paul is saying to focus on the blessings in our lives rather than on the trials. According to Paul, we should focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. We all have blessings and things which are good in our lives. From a relationship with a loving Savior to a roof over our heads to family and friends who love and accept us as we are, we all have an abundance of things for which we can and should be thankful. The key in all of this is to thank God each and every day for these wonderful gifts, and not simply say, “Thank You Lord for Your blessings.” Specifically thank God for each blessing He’s given and then praise Him for who He is to you. He’s not just a Savior. He’s a Friend, Comforter, Sustainer, Father, and Provider just to name a few.
Our lives may be filled with daily challenges, but each day is also filled with God’s love and goodness. He reveals Himself each day in a special way, but far too often, we miss Him because we are so focused on our problems. I can’t help but wonder how many times at the end of the day we completely missed what God was trying to show us because we were so wrapped up in our problems.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss seeing God at work in my life. I want to be aware of His loving kindness every day of my life. I want to come to the end of my life and see that God was actively at work in my life every moment of every day, but in order to do that I need to trade in any negative thoughts for those which are pure, lovely, honorable, and true. It is when we do this that we will be able to rise above our circumstances and truly rejoice.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NKJV)
© January 13, 2013