You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! —Isaiah 26:3 NLT
Our thoughts–they can either help us or hurt us. The reality is, when it comes down to it, how we feel, how we behave, everything we do has its origins in our thoughts. If we’re feeling sad or angry, if we’re happy and joyful, there is a thought or thoughts that have produced those feelings. We don’t realize it, but we have the power to change the way we feel by changing the way we think. I realize that it’s not always easy, but when we are able to think about something in a different way, it can bring calm and peace. The Scripture above says that the Lord will keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him, all whose thoughts are fixed on Him.
I am the last of four kids, and my oldest sibling was my brother who was 14 years older than me. Sadly, he ended up going down a bad path and getting addicted to alcohol and drugs at a young age. My growing up years were peppered with him coming in and out of my life when he would come back home down on his luck or trying, yet again, to get cleaned up. Invariably, he’d always end up using again, which led, more than once, to some very scary situations in my home. After my parents divorced, my mom had a friend who attended a church different than the one we went to, and she invited us to go there a few times. They had a book store, and my mom bought a daily devotional. I remember really loving that little book. It had words of encouragement, but it also had God’s Word in it. I remember during one very scary situation when my brother was out of control on drugs, I ran to my mom’s room and grabbed that book and opened it. I don’t remember what the passage said, but I do remember the peace it gave me. It was really a supernatural peace in the midst of a terrible storm. As I was in a panic, not knowing what would happen next or if we could be physically harmed, I was able to ground myself in God’s Word and somehow find peace and strength in the midst of what was totally out of my control. God was faithful then, and He’s always been faithful.
There’s a verse in Scripture that says that God’s Word will not return void, meaning God’s Word always produces a harvest. There is power in God’s Word:
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. —Isaiah 55:10-11.
Even though I was only getting little nuggets of God’s Word in that devotional, He was using it to strengthen me, calm me, and give me peace. When I got older and wanted to know more about God and His Word, I realized how even back then, in His mercy and grace, He was equipping me with what I needed to weather that storm. There have been many other storms in my life, but He always gives me what I need in the moment if I run to Him and His Word. When I think about what His Word says, when I run to those passages of Scripture that have brought me comfort and strength before, it’s like being talked off the ledge. Yes, things may not shift immediately, there may still be tough stuff to go through, but He brings a peace that only He can, and a power that only He can. That’s what it means when the Scriptures tell us that He will keep in perfect peace all whose thoughts are fixed on Him.
I’ve worked in mental health for many years, and I’ve taught classes to both individuals and corporate clients. What we know about the brain is that it is very efficient, and the more we think in certain patterns, the more those patterns get hardwired. It’s easy to “go there” often like when we get stuck in a thought pattern that is making us miserable. The only way to change this, is to literally replace the thoughts with something different. It does no good to just try to will yourself to stop thinking about it. What we need to do is replace those thoughts with different thoughts. The secular world is touting the many benefits of practicing gratitude because the science that is uncovering more about the brain, and how it works, has shown us that by “fixing” our thoughts or meditating on something specifically, can help us alleviate unwanted thoughts that cause us distressing emotions. Once again, God’s Word is proven to be true, and not just from a practical standpoint, but His Word is what will give us the power to overcome in the most challenging circumstances, will show us the paths He wants for our lives, and will ultimately transform us to be more like His Son, Jesus, who is the living Word!
Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.—1 Thessalonians 2:13