The apostle Paul, in writing to the Philippian Christians, advised them to focus their minds on good things; the things that were true and beautiful. Where do I find those things today? Not usually in our news media. What I find there are the bad things; many things that are false; and many things that are evil and ugly. These things often make me feel anxious and depressed.
Often, in the media, I receive enormous amounts of information about murders, abuse, and acts of injustice, which are happening around the world. Occasionally there’s an item of news which makes me feel encouraged or happy, but those items are rare. As a result, my innermost being can feel starved of good things and my spirit can become downcast.
Does this mean there’s a scarcity of good things happening in the world? Is there nothing which is true and beautiful? No, there’s plenty of good things happening. The psychologist Herbert Freudenburger once said ‘Get into the habit of noticing and nurturing the unspectacular good things that happen to you’.
Yet it’s a human weakness to overlook the good things and focus on the things that are wrong, many of which we can do nothing about. I’m not at all surprised to hear reports about churches saying they’re overwhelmed with people who are struggling emotionally and mentally, people they don’t know how to help.
It’s so sad that the stress of modern life has led many to seek help in spiritual techniques and therapies which aren’t of God, and there are practitioners making a lot of money out of vulnerable people. But I know we don’t need to spend our money to find peace for our minds.
The apostle Paul wrote ‘The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything’ (Philippians 4:5-6, ESV). We don’t have to be passive victims of stress. Paul went on to say we can choose to rejoice in the Lord, to pray about the problems, to give thanks for all our blessings, and to focus our thoughts on good things which are true and beautiful.
If we do all that, Paul says ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7). So, let’s not waste another moment. Let’s begin to notice all that’s good, however small, and give thanks to God for it.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help us to set our minds on things which will lift our spirits, and to rejoice in You. Help us to remember that You are at hand and we don’t need to be anxious. We can take all our problems to You in prayer and begin to focus on our blessings, praising and thanking You. Amen.
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