Here we are. Three months into 2020 and it seems like the world is playing a cruel joke on us all. Australian bushfires, earthquakes in Puerto Rico, tornadoes in Tennessee, locust plagues breaking out all over East Africa and now the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The world is going absolutely mad and people have started hoarding all the toilet paper.
During this time, I found myself starting to stress. Stress about my dad who has asthma. What will happen if he gets COVID-19? Stressed about what will happen if the daycare closes, the canceled plans with family and friends, canceled church services, and possible unemployment. Honestly, I became stressed about everything. I could feel myself becoming completely overwhelmed by my thoughts. At one point I felt like I couldn’t turn them off. Just negative thought after thought after thought.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, the apostle Paul writes that we are to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” How on Earth are we supposed to do that when we have between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day? That is an average of 2,500 – 3,300 thoughts an hour. How on earth are we supposed to take that many thoughts and make them line up to the word of God?
We can do that by retraining our mind. It feels like a battlefield, but it has to be done. In Proverbs 23:7 it says “as a man thinks, so is he.” Everything we think shapes our lives moment by moment. There are many ways to get through the battle, but here are my top four favorites.
1. Realize that you are responsible for your own thoughts and ask God to help you regain control.
2. When you start to have negative thoughts, challenge it. Ask yourself “Is this information true? Do these thoughts line up to the word of God?” The Bible says to think of 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 (Philippians 4:8). If it doesn't fall into any of those categories, then the thought is false and negative.
3. Change the negative thought into a positive or at least something more rational. Sometimes my thought is that I’m not qualified for the job I have and I’m not sure I can do it. The truth is that I can do the job or my supervisor wouldn’t have hired me. I’ve also been on the job a year now. If it wasn’t working out I would have been fired by now.
4. Positive affirmations are key! Sometimes I have to say out loud the positive affirmations to refocus. I may look crazy doing it, but it works.
It is possible to change our thinking. Things are difficult right now, but we don’t have to keep our minds stuck in that place. It is a constant battle but we will overcome. God gave us the Holy Spirit, who is a wonderful teacher and guide to help us through this.