by Jo Umberger
There was a time in my life when I thought I would scream if one more person said to me, “Just don’t worry about it.” “Just,” I thought. “Apparently you think refraining from worry is a simple proposition!”
Honestly I had no idea how to stop worrying. “But what if we don’t have enough money? Or one of us is in a car crash? What if things don’t work out like we need them to work out?”
The roots of this kind of negative anticipatory thinking can be many. For me, worry was a way of dealing with unpleasant circumstances that were outside my control.
It’s twisted but here it is. Somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that analyzing the problem over and again would solve the problem. That’s a big, fat, lie!
When we worry, we are meditating on the negative.
Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Ready for a new idea?
What will it take for us to control our thoughts?
Yes, there is personal responsibility in this matter. My job and your job is to take control of what we think.
Here are two very important strategies for controlling thoughts, which means we are to choose the thoughts on which we will meditate. Bottom line: we can control worry rather than allowing it to control us.
1. Study the Bible to know the Son of God and to learn the truth of God. If we truly believe (mentally accept and act on) these and other truths, we can use the truth of God as a weapon to combat the lies that Satan plants in our minds.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV (Emphasis mine)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NIV (Emphasis mine)
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I John 3:1a NIV (Emphasis mine)
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” I John 5:13 NIV (Emphasis mine)
2. When lies from Satan and negative thoughts (such as worry) come into our minds, we must take them captive.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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 10:3-5 NIV (Emphasis mine)
When the thought enters your mind, “catch it.” Be aware of what you are thinking!
Question the thought. “Is this based on the truth of God or is it a lie from Satan? Will I continue to think about this, meditate on it, and think about all related possibilities?”
If the thought is not based on truth, take charge! We must replace what we are thinking with another thought. Memorize this verse to be ready for this spiritual warfare.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV (Emphasis mine)
This is one tool we can use to break a bad habit of dwelling on the negative and on thoughts that Satan plants in our minds.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one (Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV (parenthetical phrase and emphasis mine)
Jesus was tempted in every way, which means He was tempted to worry. But he did not give in to the temptation.
Jesus offers freedom from worry. We must believe him — mentally accepting His truth and acting on it!