How has your mind been lately? What has your thinking been like? What have you focused on? Have you been troubled? In turmoil? Restless? Fearful? Depressed? We can easily find ourselves running through life, dealing with the challenges and uncertainties that we face by developing a troubled mind. Troubled by what we see around the world and even around us personally. Troubled by what has happened in the past. Troubled by the thoughts of the future. There is a lot to be troubled about, and it’s important not to minimize the concerns. God allows things in our lives that we need to process, pray over, seek counsel and lay out a plan to move through or past.
The danger comes when we make those troubling issues our primary focus. We can get stuck in our spiritual life when we begin to set our mind on the issues of life and they begin to captivate us and pull us down. We can go around in circles in our thinking, moving from productive evaluation and planning to fretting and overthinking the challenges we face. If you have ever been troubled in your mind about an issue, you know full well that it can debilitate you from working on a resolution. There has to come a time of faith.
I have to keep going back to what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is good, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is anything excellent and worthy of praise, set your mind on those things.” What a wonderfully freeing command that the Lord has given us. And yet how hard it is to put into practice! Freeing because it allows us to cast off the troubled min. It follows Paul’s encouragement to take our cares to the Lord and lay them at His feet. When we take the troubles of life and give them to the Lord with thanksgiving, we can then set about to refocus our minds as Paul exhorts. When we are troubled, it is because we are setting our minds on the troubles rather than our God. But if we have given them over to Him to take care of, that promised peace can come into our hearts and minds. It becomes easy to set our minds on things that will allow us to better cope and press through the challenges.
I think that we need to exercise our mental muscles and purpose to set aside those things that we have already prayed about and set in His hands. Don’t for a second doubt that you can’t set your mind of what is good, honorable, and right – if Paul tells us to do it, we can do it. Kenneth Wuest writes that we should, “put out of the way all that disturbs our minds, things that would impede the free exercise of our spiritual faculties. We know how worry, fretfulness, anger, and their related mental attitudes all freeze up the mind and make it unfit for the best kind of work and the highest type of Christian life.” We need to remember that every day, every moment our minds are best used for better purposes than fretting and trying to solve dilemmas by endlessly thinking and rethinking the issues. All that mental anguish doesn’t help to solve the problems anyway. We need to remember that God wants us to use our minds for a better purpose -to glorify Him. There is nothing that fits the description of Philippians 4:8 better than the Person of God. In Psalm 34, David writes, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually come out of my mouth.” Hmmm. Apparently David didn’t spend his mental energy fretting and overthinking the problems in his life. He couldn’t have if he was blessing God at all times. You can’t bless and praise God and fret and worry at the same time. Now the question is, “Which one is better for your soul?” and “Which one is better for the glory of God?” Not a hard question to answer. I’m not suggesting that to set your mind on the things of Philippians 4:8 is easy. It’s not easy if you have had a habit of fretting and being despondent. But you can. Remember that. It takes a moment by moment awareness of where your thoughts are and a constant redirecting of them back to Christ and the glory of God. When you let go and think on Christ, you will find yourself refreshed and surprisingly at peace. That’s the promise Paul gives. You deserve a better life than a troubled mind, but more importantly, doesn’t God deserve your praise?