Do you remember as a child playing pin the tail on the donkey? Or blind man’s bluff? Or try to break the Piñata? In each case the player is blindfolded and even though the player cannot see, he/she can rely on their instincts and the assistance of a trusted companion to get them where they need to go.
Sometimes we walk through dark places in life, and hope seems illusive. The proverbial “glass half empty” thought process creeps into our thinking. If we dwell on negative thoughts they begin to grow and multiply. Paul knew this, that is why he wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB)
What we dwell on grows.
Negative thoughts however, bankrupt us of our hope; and when we lose hope, our heart becomes sick. (Proverbs 13:12) Paul knew this. That is why he told us to dwell on the right things… for they too will begin to grow and multiply. We can choose to focus on the good things and the truth of God’s word, or we can choose to abandon our hope and dwell on negative circumstances. We control the thoughts we think. We can choose to dismiss negative thoughts the moment they enter our minds or take ownership of them. We get to choose.
How can you know what thoughts to focus on and which ones to dismiss? We must stay focused upon the positive, for what we feed will grow.
Once again, Paul wrote, in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Knowing God’s word will give us the foundation upon which to judge each thought and circumstance. How does the thought line up with the truth we find in the bible? One can only know the answer to this question by knowing what the word of God says.
I am reminded of a very dark time in my life, when it seemed I had no hope at all. It was dark because I was focusing on what I did not have, instead of what I did have. I had embraced the “glass half empty” concept.
I remember crying to God saying, “I no longer have my own house, my own car, or my own furniture… I don’t even have a steady job!” It seemed that I had lost every possession of importance. God allowed me to wallow in my negative thinking… for a while, but not long. Once I was done complaining, these questions came to mind. Do you have a warm bed to sleep in? Do you have plenty of food to eat? Do you have transportation and a loving family? I had every need fulfilled, and then some. I lacked nothing of necessity. There are many others that are far less fortunate, sleeping under bridges and foraging for food in dumpsters. I got the point. I was truly a very blessed woman.
Later as I was walking along the beautiful Greenway in Raleigh, NC where I was staying with my family, I realized this. There are many treasures that God has awaiting our discovery each day, like flowers along the path. We can choose to look for them, or close our eyes and focus on our circumstances instead. The choice is ours. Like flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, we cannot go back to retrieve the blessings we leave behind. Like Peter, who took his eyes off Jesus for just a moment, and began to sink. We need to keep focused on the right things, those things of good report, otherwise we begin to sink in our own self-pity.
What are you focusing on?
When the seasons in our life change, we cannot go back. I was blessed with a loving family and plenty of time to spend with my grandchildren. I had the opportunity to create memories that will remain in my heart forever. These were treasures indeed. Treasures that I did not want to ignore. Today the seasons have changed, as life always does. The opportunities of yesterday are now nothing more than a memory of days gone by. . Fortunately, the memories that I gathered along the way will remain in my heart forever; like flowers in a bouquet. They were treasures from God, and I chose to take time to discover them. I gathered them instead of ignoring them. I looked for them. I stopped focusing on the negative and begin to look at the positive, at what God had blessed me with.
My cup was not half empty, it was half full. What about yours? Are you dwelling on the negative circumstances, or on the positive promises of God? What you think on, what you focus on, will grow. When I began to focus on the positive part of my life, it began to overtake the negative. I forgot about what I did not have and I begin to sun myself in the many blessings that I did have. Because I changed my focus, my circumstances changed as well.
That brings me back to the childhood games we talked about in the beginning. The blind folded player needed a sighted guide to lead the way, someone worthy of trusting. When the circumstances of life get dark, when we can’t seem to find our way, when we lose hope for our future, we have a companion we can trust. He will guide us through the darkness and give us hope. His name is Jesus.
The Bible says that Jesus came that we “might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NAS).
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. God delights in giving you the desires of your heart.
This article first appeared in Faith Filled Family Magazine in January of 2015 where I was recently added to the staff as the Features Manager. I am a regular contributor to the magazine. I am also employed by Vision International University.