The Danger in Entertaining Negative Thoughts
How do you navigate those days where you just don’t feel like dealing with anything on your plate? What about the days when you feel like there is a dark cloud hanging over your head? All you seem to recognize is what is NOT right with any given situation. You are disgusted with the dirty interior of the car; nevermind that it runs flawlessly, has a full tank, and is fully insured. You get onto junior because he has a missing assignment in the grade book; nevermind overall grade of 97% in the class. You trip and almost roll your ankle on hubby’s shoe lying in the middle of the closet floor; nevermind that it is IN the closet. You wake up with a sleepy headache because you decided to watch the final quarter of that ridiculous blowout on Monday night football (just me?).
Recently, far too many of my mornings have started with a barrage of negative emotions immediately befalling me. On the one hand, who can expect to be all joy and sunshine at four o’clock in the morning, right? On the other hand, I am supposed to have the mind of Christ, and nowhere in the bible do I recall reading about Jesus being tempted to curse the morning. Yet, here I am constantly fighting off bad moods, and worse feelings. One day in particular, I just did not feel okay. I could find no rest for my assiduous mind; my thoughts were bombarded with complaints and discontentment. I could find no peace for my restless heart; I wanted to feel joy and contentment, but my emotions were everywhere, and they were getting the best of me. I was short on patience and understanding. Easily agitated by those who’s actions didn’t align with my expectations. Quick to feel offended. Lord, what is really going on?
Then I read Psalm 42, where the sons of Korah are overwhelmed with the sadness of being in exile and longing for the presence of the Lord God. The bible says they feed on a steady diet of tears while those around them question their faith…question their God. Within 12 verses of scripture, we read three times:
Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my [sad] countenance, and my God. (AMP)
Like the sons of Korah, I ask “why am I feeling so sad”? The fact is that you and I will experience negative emotions because we are human. Corinthians says that there is no temptation we will experience that is not common, and adapted to human experience, but God is faithful and gives us the ability and strength to resist, and bear it (I Cor 10:13). The truth is I may experience negative emotions, but those emotions don’t have to control me (or you). Satan is a student of God’s people—he knows us. He can never know us like God knows us, but he knows how to devise his plan for us based upon our history. So, he sets us up, ripening the circumstances for his intended result, and he invites us in.
Having studied me well, satan often tempts me to be negative, critical—of myself or others—and hypersensitive to offenses against me (perceived or real), because this is an area of weakness for me. When his attacks come one after another, it’s so easy to give into discouragement. Satan knows that if he can keep me “in my feelings”, he might be able to elicit one of three responses, all of which entail some form of disobedience or failure to trust in God. If I take the bait, I will 1) do a whole lot of damage to others with my words, 2) make reckless short-sighted decisions out of convenience, or 3) be completely paralyzed by discouragement and end up in depression.
The latter, dear friend, is what’s really going on! All the negativity in my mind has infected my emotions and ultimately has led me to feel distanced from God (an exile of sorts). Now I’m wrapped, tied up, and tangled up in discouragement.
Our soul is the seat of our emotions. Comprised of the mind, will, and emotions, the soul serves as the processing center for the inner self. Negative thoughts yield negative feelings. Negative feelings lead to bad behavior or poor decision making. And my thoughts have been an absolute hodgepodge of delusions and lies. Who other than the father of lies to be standing ready each morning offering thoughts like, “look at you, you messed it up again,” or “you are always looking for the answer, but never mastering it”, or “you haven’t accomplished anything of importance your whole life”. He isn’t above using our family or friends either. He says things like, “they don’t really care about you,” or “you can’t depend on them.” When we are clothed in the word of God, we can fight off the lies with a chuckle. But when we are already worn out and resigned to our feelings, as I have been, these thoughts are destructive! By entertaining negative thoughts, I’ve given into complaint, discontentment, and ingratitude. I have personally opened the door for the enemy to play.
The sons of Korah overcame discouragement by placing their hope in God. They looked to God for their help. They praised Him as the lifter of their heart and their countenance. We too can place our hope and expectation in God, who has given us practical instruction for dealing with negative emotions and heaviness of heart. I’ve decided that I won’t feel condemned for losing this battle in the war for my mind and emotional well-being. I won’t entertain the lie that I’ll always feel this way or that way. You and I never have to be discouraged because God is our hope, and He has already made us victorious.
What lies has satan been offering you? What lie has infiltrated your thoughts and effects the way you feel about a situation, a person, or even yourself? Did you step out from under the covering of His grace as a result? If you’ve allowed yourself to believe the lies and your heart is burdened with negative emotions, don’t lose hope. Nothing is too hard for God. No matter what situation hasn’t worked out like you thought it would. Regardless of who has let you down. It doesn’t even matter if you are the one who’s messed up. Our ultimate defense against discouragement, is hope. We can always place our hope in God and He never disappoints.
Cathy, it truly takes the power of the Holy Spirit, intentionality, and effort to police our own thoughts, especially when we’ve practiced negative thinking or maintained negative mindsets for so long. Be encouraged sis. Just continue to pour the word of God into your mind and into your heart. Have a ready word or song always ready to combat negativity. I love how you said for every negative, there must be a positive. Exactly! Focus on the positive, keep the word on hand, and your mindset and perspective will eventually be transformed. As I said, it is a daily process, for me- moment by moment really, but we are victorious! Praise be to God.