Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by negative feelings. They may be there because of a conflict in your marriage, difficult work situations, problems with your children, financial difficulties or just a feeling of hopelessness because life seems so unfair.
Is there anything that can be done about these negative feelings? Can we control our feelings? Can we change them? If you were asked to make yourself feel happy you would probably think of a wonderful experience you have had like winning a prize or experiencing a special celebration. On the other hand if you were asked to feel sad you would think of a very devastating or sad experience. This tells us that our feelings are usually connected to our thoughts. Often we cannot control the circumstances that lead to our thoughts but we can choose how we want to think about them and that in turn affects our feelings.
Paul found himself in a difficult situation one day. He had been so faithful in serving the Lord. He had given his life to share the Good News of the gospel. His heart was passionate to see people come to a faith in his risen Lord. But here he was, in prison, Probably with his feet in stocks. Paul could have said, “It’s not fair” We might say, he had reason to complain. He could have blamed God for his difficult situation. He could have been overcome by negative thoughts and feelings because of his circumstances but we see Paul making a choice. He chose to focus on the good things, the blessings in his life. We read about this choice in the book of Philippians.
Even though he was in prison he made a choice to think about things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, what is excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4. 8-9) and encourages his readers to do the same.
We too have a choice like Paul did. Difficult circumstances can so easily cause us to focus on negative thoughts which create negative feelings and also actions. This sets in motion a negative cycle that only leads to unhappiness, darkness and despair. In the same way, as we choose to focus on the blessings and the resources we have in the Lord, as Paul did, feelings of peace and rejoicing in the the Lord will follow.