Did you know that it’s impossible to think two thoughts at once? As amazing as your brain is, it is limited to one thought at a time. That’s good news! The bad news is that you can’t eliminate a thought by telling yourself not to think it. It’s hard to concentrate on the reverse of something. According to Tommy Newberry in his book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, you can only exchange one idea for another. “You can do away with a negative thought only when you exchange it for a positive thought.”
The opposite is also true. The media these days is only too willing to give you a few negative thoughts to replace any joyful thoughts you might be finding as you enjoy the comforts of family and home during the COVID-19 crisis. Newberry states that we must be very deliberate about the thoughts we plant and nurture. One fear-based thought can lead to another until the garden of your mind resembles an overgrown weed patch!
The solution, he says is to transfer your attention to something else completely. “You can exert far greater control over your thinking and, by extension, your life, by exchanging negative, counterproductive thoughts for positive, empowering thoughts.”
I am on a seesaw with this at the moment. In my quiet time I am focusing on God’s goodness. Meditating on Bible verses that tell of His love and protection. I am thinking good thoughts. Then a little voice says, “Check your phone for news.” That’s the devil for sure because the coverage of this pandemic is sensationalized to evoke fear and anxiety. I just wanted to find out if the grocery store is still open but I’m suddenly reading about an entire family decimated by the virus and off my imagination goes down a negative spiral. Yikes!
Newberry suggests committing scripture to memory. When we have the actual, word-for-word verses quickly at hand, it’s easier to dispel negative thoughts. Kenneth Hagin is quoted as saying, “You can’t stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can stop it from building a nest there.” As Jesus countered Satan in the desert by stating, “It is written…,” we can swat negative images away from the branches of your mind with God’s truth. The book has a list of verses that are helpful to memorize, but you may have your favorites that praise God for his strength and goodness. One of my favorites from the list is Isaiah 26:3 (NLT), You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
The challenge for today is to identify three Bible verses you’d like to commit to memory and then to do it! Newberry suggests that you write them on a 3 x 5 card and carry it around with you, rereading it ten or twenty times a day. I have been working on Philippians 4:6-7, will add Isaiah 26:3 and the last part of Nehemiah 8:10 (AMP), “And do not be worried, for the joy of the LORD is your strength and your stronghold.”
What verses will you use to quiet your mind amid a barrage of negative messages?