I have gone through periods of my life when I have let my problems - and the problems of others - bother and affect me more than is healthy or wise for me. When this was happening to me recently, the Lord showed me two ways to maintain my peace and joy right in the midst of my troubles.
First, He told me, "DON'T THINK ABOUT IT." Before I began studying the Bible in-depth, I honestly believed that I had no control over my thought-life. Then I read, "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV) The truth is that as believers, you and I have Holy Spirit power on the inside of us to "cast down" the thoughts that are opposed to God's Word and ways. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV) Years ago, the Lord taught me to say - "I'm not having that thought! Jesus doesn't think like that, and neither do I!" - every time a thought came into my mind that was opposed to "the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16) Scripture promises that when we deliberately shift our thoughts to the Lord - trusting His character and His good intentions for us - we will enjoy His unshakable peace in the midst of problems: "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!" (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
The Lord's will for us is to be filled with His peace no matter what is going on in our lives, but He requires our cooperation. Remember the passage where Jesus tells His disciples that He's leaving them His peace? In the Amplified translation, we find that we have a part to play in order to enjoy this kind of peace: "Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop ALLOWING yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not PERMIT yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]" (John 14:27 AMP) Since Satan and his dark forces are constantly working overtime to steal our peace, we are going to have to be aggressive in holding on to it, with the Spirit of God's help. In Psalm 55:22 (NIV), David the shepherd-king says, "My thoughts trouble me…" We are working against ourselves when we allow our own thoughts to make us miserable.
The second thing God told me was, "DON'T TALK ABOUT IT." One of the truths that the Lord has been impressing upon me lately is in Proverbs 21:23 (AMP): "He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards himself from troubles." The New Living Translation puts it a little more bluntly: "Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble." The older I get, the more painfully aware I become of how many times I make my problems worse by opening my mouth when I should keep it shut. My loved ones can tell you how many times I have told them, "You can't un-ring a bell," when I was warning them to watch their words. So many times, I have wished that I could take my words back, and suffered unnecessary pain and damaged relationships because I simply said too much.
When I was growing up, there was a popular saying that went like this - "Tell it like it is." There was even a popular song with that title at the time. Well, I'm here to tell you that according to the Word of God, "telling it like it is" isn't always a good idea. One Scripture that has helped me in this area is, "Steer clear of foolish discussions which lead people into the sin of anger with each other. Things will be said that will burn and hurt for a long time to come." (2 Timothy 2:16-17 TLB) Our words have consequences. God warns us about this fact time and time again in His Word, including in Proverbs 18:21 (AMP): "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words." God's will for us is to live in peace, but we can actually relinquish our peace by speaking words that invite trouble, chaos, and strife into our lives and our relationships.
Jesus said, "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27 NLT) Let's you and I cooperate with the Savior to maintain our peace, so that others will be drawn to Him through us!
Lord, You make it clear in Your Word that it is possible to live in this world while enjoying Your matchless peace. Teach me how to continually reject the wrong thoughts, and to replace them with Your thoughts instead. Instruct me how to speak words of life and healing when I am tempted to say the wrong things. Thank You that as I cooperate with You in this area, I will enjoy the peace that surpasses all comprehension all the rest of my days! (Philippians 4:7 NASB)
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