I hate to admit it, but I was struggling last week. I was struggling with my thought life. In my case, I was struggling with aging and purpose. But you might be struggling with fear and hopelessness in your marriage, your job, your finances, your relationships. We all, if not careful, can move into the “dark side” quickly with our thoughts.
Typically, I can totally focus on the blessings in my life, and have had a reputation for being considered a positive person. But after turning 66, on Medicare, more years behind me than before me, I’m not growing older gracefully. I don’t want to feel fearful or discouraged or depressed, but I am having increasingly greater difficulty focusing on what I still can do instead of what I can’t do. My thoughts were bringing me down mentally, emotionally, and at times, spiritually.
Then I reminded myself what King Solomon wrote: “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23, NCV). He wrote this passage for the benefit of his own sons. He wanted to pass down the real wisdom of how to lead a nation. Now if I were in King Solomon’s shoes and I was going to pass down wisdom to my sons, I don’t think I would have done what he did. I would have given advice to my sons about royal matters like how to handle money, job responsibilities, or best tips for leading the kingdom. He didn’t do that. He gave his sons advice on the value of controlling their thoughts. Solomon knew their thought lives would determine the quality of their lives. Developing the ability to control their thoughts would determine how they would live.
Whatever your mind focuses on will play out in your life and eventually shape who you are. Our thoughts are so powerful that they can turn into feelings, gaining control over our lives and gradually steering us in a direction we don’t want to go. King Solomon wanted to pass this wisdom down, and counsels us to guard our thought lives and feelings. He knew that our thoughts, not our circumstances, can cause us to sink. Be careful how you handle disappointment and crushed dreams when people hurt or anger you. When problems seem overwhelming, it’s too easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. When we think negative thoughts, we feel negative feelings, leading us to believe life is negative overall.
During this season of my life, I realized my thoughts were running my life. I bowed my head and confessed to Jesus how I had allowed my negative thoughts to sink my joy and my hope. When I changed my thoughts, my outlook on my life changed as well. You can do the same.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV