God’s anti-stress therapy is God’s rest. In the previous post, we looked at God’s rest and the main way of entering and staying in it. One of the most important keys to apply this anti-stress therapy is the exercise of self-control in our thinking.
Keys to apply God’s anti-stress therapy – renewing of the mind
Because our mind is the most important battlefield, not only the way we think and the stereotypes we have but also the thoughts we focus on an everyday level play a decisive role in dealing with stress and anxiety. God gives us a solution to both aspects of thinking. The solution to the first aspect, which relates to established patterns of thought and stereotypes, is the re-programming, called renewing of the mind. This is a long and continuous process supported by studying the Word of God and by being led in all truth by the Holy Spirit. In this way, false and destructive models of thinking are identified and destroyed. At the same time, new ways of thinking and perception corresponding to God’s truths are being created.
The renewed mind is the foundation that holds us and makes us stable and resistant to stress. The renewed thinking is based on the truth, and truth means freedom. This includes also the freedom of response and dealing with attacks of anxiety and fear. The renewed mind and way of thinking is centered and stands on an unshakable and unchanging foundation. This is Christ Who is the Rock. The renewed mind is able to rest in the unchangeable, unconditional love of God guaranteed by the personal covenant relationship. It is able to rest in his complete dependence on God, who is the Perfect Parent, Almighty, Sovereign, and in control.
Keys to apply God’s anti-stress therapy – the right focus
The next key to applying God’s anti-stress therapy is maintaining the right focus in our thinking on a daily basis. This process includes in the first place the filtering of our thoughts. This is the opposite of the passive wandering of the mind. Filtering is grasping of one thought at the very beginning of its occurrence in the mind. And then sifting it through God’s filter given in the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians 4:8-19. “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”
We see that the two most important criteria are truth and love. The result of thoughts and deeds, guided by truth and love, is peace and tranquility, and the experiencing of the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). In his second message to the Corinthians apostle, Paul gives us another practical instruction about filtering thoughts. „We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 5)To take captive means to reject thoughts that are not in tune with the truth and love and which reinforce our fears and anxiety.
More practical steps
- Replacing compulsive thoughts in the form of lies, threats, accusations or self-blame, temptations, etc. with the specific truth of God’s word.
- Initiative focusing on thoughts and statements that are in sync with the filter described above. This is how God encourages us to do this in Proverbs 3:21-26: “My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.” We also see here that the direct result of applying God’s anti-stress therapy is safety, stability, and freedom from fear and anxiety.
- Avoiding and refusing to speak out and repeat those thoughts that have not passed God’s filter test successfully. Instead, we should speak and express thoughts that are in harmony with the truths of God for a given situation.
The key of love
It is important that even if we do not know God’s word in detail, we can always decide to apply the basic truth of God’s character. That is the key of love. So we can filter the thoughts and the way we react. Does what I think of myself and the situation in question correspond to the truth that God loves me? And that He is on my side and takes care of me? Or the thought rather expresses my fears and shows me a false and distorted reality? For example that I am left alone or that God is angry and punishes me, and so on.
Exercising self-control in our thinking is a difficult discipline. However, the more we practice, the easier it gets. This is a pathway, a process in which supported by the grace and power of God, we can learn to apply God’s solution to our fears and concerns. The result is a free and joyful life in the mode for which we are created.
How are you doing in your thought life? In which areas do you experience major difficulties? Come, share your thoughts in the comments!