Getting caught in a negative train of thought is so easy, making long lists in the mind of all the bad things that are wrong in the world and counting all the problems that are weighing us down. We stand back and let the bright portrait of ourselves be painted over as victims instead of victors, one dark brush stroke at a time. Our problems root deeper into our minds and fuel more negative ideas until they grow so deep we find ourselves in a pit of despair. Our life becomes stuck in a rut full of waist deep mud and we’re sinking fast. I heard that “a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out,” and I believe it.
Are you there? How do you get out?
First of all, turn off the TV and radio for a few weeks, especially the daily news and talk radio. Broadcasters “sell” the news with negative stories and disasters. Stop hanging around negative people and politely step away when their gossip fans the flames of the negative fires. Stay away from alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and can fuel the dark thoughts in your mind. Find a way to quiet all the commotion in your life and your mind with exercise, reading and prayer.
In the hymn, Count Your Blessings, written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. in 1897, the blessings God gives can be rediscovered by examining life and the simple necessities:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.
Take up a pad of paper and a pencil. Make a list of blessings. I’ve taught for many years, that we only really NEED five things to survive in life:
1. Clean, disease free water
2. Nutritious food
3. A roof to cover us from the weather
4. Warmth to keep from freezing
5. Seasonably appropriate clothing
Anything else makes you rich, in the eyes of half the world.
Add your own “blessings” to the list. Here are some to consider:
· You can read
· Hugs and smiles
· Sunshine AND rain
· The breeze
· The moon
· God’s infinite creation
· The wonder of how “the very hairs of your head are numbered” by God (Luke 12:7)
Keep your list with you for a week and add to it. Tape it to your bathroom mirror. Meditate on it. Thank God for His blessings every day. It takes 21 days to make a bad habit. It takes the same amount of time to establish a new, good habit, so it may take that long to shake off negative feelings.
Do you have the five things needed to survive? Do you have extra blessings? Be content and count your blessings.
The Apostle Paul, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit reminds us:
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." - 1 Timothy 6:6-8
He also said:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” - Philippians 4:6-8
Pastor Jay Merritt