I believe that some people are born with the natural tendency to lean more on the positive side, taking on more of an optimistic perspective. Others have to work a little harder to stay on the optimistic side. I am one of those who often have to put in a tad bit more work to see the bright side of things. 100 great things can happen in a day, but all of my attention can tend to shift to the one annoyance – a molehill turned into a mountain. It’s a trait that I legitimately hate.
We all have weaknesses and flaws, so there is no shame at all. The awesome news is Christ gives us a NEW nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). It doesn’t mean all of our issues vanish overnight. That would be too easy, and we would gain very little strength without perseverance. When we have Christ, we have issues, but our issues don’t have us. We may struggle from time to time, but we trust that everything (even our faults and failures) works out for our good in some way according to the perfect will of God (Romans 8:28). We know that we can get through anything with Christ (again, according to His perfect will and plans) because He gives us the strength and He makes us victorious (Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:37). With all this being said, I think it is safe to conclude that deliverance is participatory. God will help us (emphasis on help) but He won’t enable our laziness or passiveness. He does require our participation.
Negative thoughts. We all have them from time to time. Some of us hang on to them WAY longer than we should. Here is the liberating reality – WE DON’T HAVE TO. Sure, negative thoughts will pop up in our minds here and there. We will have encounters and experiences that will induce negative thoughts and emotions BUT we have POWER over them (2 Timothy 1:7). Also, it’s great to know that self-control is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We don’t have to sulk in our negative emotions and thoughts. We’re human. We will feel them, and it is healthy to acknowledge and address them, as internalizing is toxic; however, we must be sure not to prolong our occupancy in negative thoughts and emotions. We can’t stay in them. In fact, we’re not supposed to take unresolved anger into the next day (Ephesians 4:26), but thankfully God extends immeasurable grace that spares and empowers us through failures and mistakes. I have slept on anger and awoke to it more times than I care to count.
It’s amazing how our thoughts and emotions effect our physiology. There are numerous scientific studies that show a correlation between anger, resentment, pessimism and various diseases. This is why it is so urgent and important to capture toxic thoughts and emotions, address them, express them in a healthy way, take them to the Lord in prayer, worship to shift our attention from the negative to God, and intentionally think something GOOD and life-producing. In the book of Philippians, Apostle Paul gives us pretty solid instructions for how to think. We’re to trust God with what’s wrong (through prayer and worship) while keeping our minds on things that are true, lovely, and beautiful (Philippians 4:4-8).
God is inviting us into His rest and peace. Peace is also a fruit of the Spirit, so as Spirit-filled sons and daughters of the Most High, we have everlasting access to it. Peace should be our default, and it can be. This is the power of God. This is why Jesus hung on the cross and rose three days later with all victory. This is why He wants us to come to Him with EVERYTHING. He knows every thought and emotion, and we never have to feel ashamed or embarrassed to bring them to him in prayer because He loves us and beckons us into His presence where there is fullness and joy (Psalm 16:11). So, we can overcome our negative thoughts and emotions by dealing with them in a healthy way through open and honest communication, prayer, worship, and intentionally deciding the think something good and live-producing. We must continuously work with the Holy Spirit to renew and cleanse our minds and hearts from day to day. He is there waiting for us. We just have to meet Him. That’s how we continue on in PEACE and JOY. That’s how we live awesome lives.