Life is full of small struggles, frustrations or hard circumstances that seem to have no end. This can make it easy to become bitter and have negative thoughts. A research article published in 2005 on human thought patterns 1 showed that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of these, 80% were negative and 95% were the exact same thoughts as the day before. Thousands and thousands of thoughts cycle through our minds’ day after day and if our thoughts are negative, our feelings and actions will become negative as well, leading to a life which lacks peace and joy.
You see, our thoughts turn into feelings which can take control of our lives steering us in either the right or wrong direction. It is usually our thought pattern and not our circumstances, that cause us to sink. Proverbs 4:23 "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life".
If you feel overwhelmed with difficulties and have negative thoughts and feelings, you are not alone. The Bible tells us that it is common to have trouble in this world - John 16:33, again, in Psalms 34:19 we read – “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, but the Lord rescues him from them all”.
When faced with difficulties, we have two choices, we can either give up or give it to God. When we give it to God, He makes us more than conquerors. Paul says in Romans 8:31 "What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us?" And verse 37 says "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]".
In Philippians 4:4 Paul urges us to "Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]"; We are asked to rejoice always, not just on paydays or holidays but always… is this possible? We find it easy to rejoice in the Lord when life is good, but when things are not going the way we think it should, it’s not that easy… but it is possible. God is a good God and does only what is good. Those who love God can trust His goodness, His power, and His will to work out all things for our good because we journey together with Him.
The promise that God works all things together for good in Romans 8:28 does not mean that all things, taken by themselves, are good. Some things and events are decidedly bad. However, God is able to work them together for good. Even though we don’t understand the circumstances we can trust that the almighty God is with us - Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you”. Though we don’t understand His actions, we can trust His heart.
So, let’s take a look at three God-filled strategies we can practice in our daily lives if we want to transform our thoughts, feelings, and lifestyles:
- Notice negative thoughts.
- Reject negative thoughts.
- Replace negative thoughts.
Scripture reinforces the importance of these three steps: 2 Cor. 10:5 says "We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ". If you’re like me, you’ve always known this instruction was important but never really understood how to follow through. However, God is ready to pull us out of negativity and discouragement if we will let our faith be in control of our minds.
Notice negative thoughts
Ask God to uncover each negative thought that passes through your mind. We can only take control over our thoughts when we notice the ones that go against God's word. We need to start recognizing the thought patterns that have developed over time. Noticing and capturing the thoughts that have kept us bound in negative thinking is the first step in transformation. Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God".
Reject negative thoughts
After we recognize negative thoughts, we have the power to reject it and refuse to entertain it in our minds and on our lips. Reject any thought that lies about who you are, who others are, or who God is. For example: If we spend all our time thinking about what other people think about us, we will begin to feel like we can never measure up and live with a lack of confidence in who we are, and to Whom we belong to. Or, if we constantly think about our past mistakes without accepting God’s forgiveness and mercy, we will live a life separated from the love and acceptance He wants us to embrace. 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour".
Replace negative thoughts
Each time you eliminate a negative thought that’s been revealed, replace it with a thought that is true. For example: Notice the negative thought ‘No one really loves me’ and replace it with ‘There are people who love me, but most importantly, I am God’s beloved’. Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things".
It might take a little while to practice these steps and make them a habit because our brains are not used to claiming and proclaiming what’s true. However, as we continue to make the right choice, our brains will begin to form new neural pathways that strengthen God’s renewal and transformation of our mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 "God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]".
We can rely on God's promise in Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation]".
May we always strive to live joyful, victorious lives through Christ who gives us strength - Philippians 4:13 – "I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace]".
All scripture verses quoted were taken from the Amplified Bible.
1Mind Matters: How to Effortlessly Have More Positive Thoughts - https://tlexinstitute.com/how-to-effortlessly-have-more-positive-thoughts/
Unsinkable faith - David C Cook
About the Author:
Peter Abraham serves as one of the Deacons of Bethany Chapel, Yorkdale, Toronto. He and his wife Tabitha have 2 children : Sarah and Daniel. They as a family are involved in various ministries in and around Toronto and are a blessing to many.