The American Institute of Health estimates that 75-90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems. Research shows that 75-98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life (Dr. Caroline Leaf). When I read Proverbs 31:25, I delight in the possible and cringe at how far off I am from that motto: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. I purchased a shirt from Nightlight Ministries with a similar theme printed across the front. I’m not going to lie: I feel rather hypocritical when I wear it. Even so, I put it on, because it’s the kind of woman (child of God, daughter, wife, and mother) I long to be.
This summer God set before me a gift…and a test. Would I receive the gift as what it was or would I struggle against it and try to regain control? Despite what I’d like to believe about myself, my trust in God is mingled with thrashing and fearful glances. As silly as it is, I sometimes believe that I’m a better candidate to rule my life. I question, “Will you really be there, God, to pick up the pieces, to hold all things?” Or…is it up to me. But then I analyze my weaknesses and my fleshly inclinations and the stress settles over my spirit, because I know I am nothing without Him. When we look to ourselves (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.) to pull life together, we often despair, because if we are honest, we know we are no match for the circumstantial chaos that bombards us. However, if we turn our thoughts towards our Father’s capacity (His merciful love, His unlimited power, His infinite wisdom, His plan), we breathe easier. Our minds are at peace. Romans 8:6 says, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
You don’t have to believe the lies that say you are stuck, you are alone, or you are incapable of transformation. Our God is a God of big things, of growth, of making the dead come to life.
I can change. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17) “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)
I can control my thoughts (not the other way around). “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” (Eph. 4:23) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7)
I do not have to be ruled by my past, my personality, or my passions. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26). “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10). “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Is. 30:21) “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)
I can trust God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him”(Ps. 28:7). “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Ps. 9:10). “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25) “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).
“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13