The way I express myself in the midst of challenges has become a high priority to “work on”. Overpowering days that involve high emotion and pain can drain the soul and make depression set in, rendering a cheerful heart inert. So how can I reactivate my cheerful heart and mind on these days…in those difficult hours? How can I be aware of what I am communicating through the chaos? How can I make sure I am not listening to the words that are not from my Heavenly Father?
I asked the Lord to show me some scripture that I could hold onto and put into practice—that can better prepare me for times such as this. To train me to become who I am supposed to be no matter what difficulties lie within. See, the word practice means to have repetition, training, and preparation. How can I prepare for the days that are heavy and laden with pressure or pain? How can I turn my innermost thoughts towards Him in those moments?
The Holy Spirit first whispered to my heart the book of James. How trials result in steadfastness. How we need to have perseverance and how we must have this *resolution and determination within our trials. How if we count it all joy—
complete joy in our Savior can be found.
He is a sovereign God even in our hard days, hours, minutes…years…
This made me think about my thoughts—What are my thoughts in these moments? What is my focus and how can I change that focus quickly if it is set on things of the flesh? I mean, does it take being doubled over in pain, in a fetal position on the floor with nowhere else to go, before I seek Him? Before I lift my eyes to Him?
In James 3:4 it speaks of strong winds driving great ships only with a tiny rudder and a pilot who can guide it wherever it needs to go. Our thoughts and the things that come out of our mouth or (what we communicate through language) are so important that in the scriptures James gives example after example of the power that it has over our lives and those around us.
James 3:2 says that if a man does not stumble in what he is saying then he would be perfect and able to control his whole body. In the same verse, it talks about how EVERYONE stumbles, therefore no one is “perfect”. Since we are ALL imperfect beings, we need to sincerely regard the tongue as a precious gift that God has given us to use in a wise manner. If our tongue has the ability to control the whole body it would mean that the “brain” is included which in essence means our “mind” is also included which then would translate to our “thought life”. The tongue may be a small tool in our body but it is used in sync with our thought life; they are pieces to the puzzle and work together as a team! If our tongue is the rudder, who is the pilot? Do we put ourselves in the captain’s chair, or do we co-pilot with Jesus?
This makes me consider questions like, “If I control my tongue will it stop judgmental and selfish thoughts from seeping into my mind… my life?” “Will it provide a better life for my family, self, and those around me?” “Will it guard me against losing focus on what really matters?” Will it bring forth joy instead of sorrow, healing instead of pain?
What is my focus? What do I practice? Do I hold pain tight to my chest in fear because that is all I have known— or can I release it, and walk through it with Him by my side? Yes, He is the ultimate comforter, but do I let Him comfort me in those times….or only in the times I am okay. Do I invite Him into the desolate places? The hardest places to be?
He will meet me there if I let Him.
Although no one is perfect in humility and everyone makes mistakes I believe we can all strive to bring more love and mercy into our thoughts and speech no matter what is happening to us. We can set a fire that is full of Christ’s love and grace rather than poison and hatred, and yes, sometimes those darts shoot out to others just because of pain *both physically and mentally. But see, we can choose selflessness instead of selfishness or unrest, because where they exist so does disharmony.
What else causes disharmony besides selfishness and unrest? You could say pain, stress, anxiety— which all, in turn, seem to create a domino effect of selfishness and unrest. It can be a vicious cycle. Some of these things we cannot always control, but we have to somehow let go… But how? How, when it is in that hour, those minutes where it feels like great despair?
I ask again— what is my focus? Am I practicing, having repetition in setting my eyes on everything at the moment except the one who created me, the Creator of all things? Am I setting my heart on things above or below?
My focus is not only to attempt humility in my thought life— but to place mercy in my speech, grace in my tone, and ultimately love in my actions. I want to surround my husband, children, friends, and yes, even myself with a tone that is set from beautiful Biblical wisdom and not from the things of this earth.
Can I create a painting where dull colors turn radiant? Where bold colors splash bright on the canvas, bringing joy to others, even in times of distress? Due to our sinful nature, it takes a lot of effort to have self-control in this area which is why seeking out ways to cultivate change is vital. To practice His word is vital. In doing this, we must rely on God, and not our own abilities—but how can change be cultivated in those exact moments?
The only answer, both complex and simple that I find is proven to work … I mean truly, sincerely… WORK… is being so close to Him, that when we are falling daily, we have but to reach out, and He takes our hand, keeping us afloat amid the storm. If we keep our eyes on Him, our focus on Him, we can be free of the storm in that moment. We can walk to Him no matter what ground lies beneath our feet, what rocks may cut into our lives. Don’t let the vibration of the roaring water pull so hard on your feet that it makes you look down.
James 4:8-9 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This is great news because if we truly seek His help, He will give it to us. His word is truly living and active and only Christ can help us purposely take hold of our thoughts, intentions, and actions guiding them to where they should go. It is important to “choose” our thoughts and not just “avoid” wrong thinking, especially in the hard days; to be ACTIVE in our thought processes.
In Philippians 4 it says, “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. To dwell means to (reside, abide, inhabit)…See we can practice (be in repetition) in the things, dwell on what matters the most. Keep our eyes fixed on Him and the fruit He bears so that we too, can bear much fruit.
It also says “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” It gives me comfort to know that the truth will set me free (always)—That the living word will guide my heart and mind, (always)… And the Heavenly Father will hold my hand (always).
That if in those moments when my heart and mind have suddenly given way under pressure and my body feels wracked with pain, even in those times, He holds me near and I can rest in Him. I can change my focus and He will give me peace and blessings in return.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Bloom and Reed