Mental and emotional pressures are increasing due to our contemporary lifestyle. The remedy for these pressures could be summed up in one word: peace. I refer to peace not in the connotation of the absence of war, but in the sense of personal fulfillment, completeness, and rest.
There are two primary enemies of peace: fear and worry. Each of them comes in many different forms. For example, we may fear or worry about sickness, or other people’s opinions, or a financial downturn. Fear is like a dagger that is thrust into us, while worry is like a little nagging worm that eats away at us. Yet, in the end, each of these assailants is destructive.
God’s primary protection against fear and worry is trust. The prophet Isaiah said,
You [addressing the Lord] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3–4 NIV)
“You will keep in perfect peace”—that is complete protection against fear and worry.
The above passage also speaks about the area where fear and worry attack—the mind. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast….” The way to have a settled, steadfast mind is stated in the next phrase: “…because he trusts in you.” Then follows this beautiful exhortation: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”
The remedy for mental and emotional pressures could be summed up in one word: peace.
Steps to Achieving Trust
As a follow-up to the trust factor that Isaiah introduced to us, let us look at two steps to achieving trust.
1. Be Renewed in the Spirit of Your Mind
The first is to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23 NASB, NKJV, KJV). Our minds are ultimately motivated, directed, and controlled by spiritual forces. Therefore, to enter into real trust, we must have a Spirit controlling our minds that is different from the spirit that controls the minds of the people of this world.
We must let another Spirit take charge of our minds—reprogramming our thinking and giving us new thought patterns and objectives that are aligned with Christ’s. Paul contrasted the spirit that operates in the people of the world with the kind of spirit that should be operating in a child of God:
God did not give us a spirit of timidity [“fear” NKJV, KJV, or cowardice], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)
The “spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” to which Paul referred is, of course, the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit we must invite to control our minds. When the Holy Spirit comes in, He excludes the spirit of timidity, or fear.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to reprogram our thinking and give us new thought patterns and objectives that are aligned with Christ’s.
2. Focus on the Positive
The second step to achieving trust in our minds is to focus on the positive. We recognize this truth in the following passage written by Paul to the Philippians:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7 NIV)
Never try to reason out the peace of God, because it “transcends all understanding.” His peace is something that goes beyond our power to reason out. So, how do we experience it? We just receive it from Him.
In the next verse, Paul prescribed how to retain the peace of God:
Finally, brothers, 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. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
What Paul described here is the ongoing recipe for peace: Focus on the positive. Don’t focus on the people who have harmed you. Don’t focus on the problems that may arise. Don’t focus on what is evil. Focus on what is good. Focus on God, His love, and His faithfulness. Focus on the Word of God. Focus on the people who care for you and pray for you. Think about all the good that you have received from people. Never let your mind be preoccupied with the negative.
Years ago, when I was serving with the British forces in Egypt, somebody pointed out to me that there are basically two kinds of birds of prey. There are those that kill their prey and eat it alive, and there are those that feed on rotten meat that stinks. That person said to me, “Both birds find what they’re looking for!” Our minds are like that. If we want to feed on rotten meat, we can do that. But if we want to feed on what is fresh, we can do that. We make the decision.
When Fear Comes
I want to point out that the Bible is very realistic. It never assumes that its recipe for peace will be applied with complete success the first time. It leaves room for an ongoing tension between fear and trust. I’m sure each of us can identify with that situation, because most of us experience it at times. King David wrote,
[God,] when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalm 56:3–4 NASB)
Please note that David did not say he would never be afraid. Instead, he said, in effect, “When I am afraid, I will not yield to fear. I will not focus on fear or let fear dominate my thinking. Rather, I will turn away from my fear. I will look to the Lord, and I will put my trust in Him.”
In the same way, as we turn to the Lord and put our trust in Him, we must honor His Word—because it is the expression of God’s will, counsel, and attitude toward us. Circumstances might seem to suggest that God does not care about us, that He is far away, and that our situation is not under His control. But when we put our trust in Him and His Word, we choose not to believe those lies of Satan.
When fear comes, the remedy is not to say, “I’m not afraid.” Instead, we say, “I won’t yield to fear. I won’t focus on fear. I will turn to God. I will put my trust in Him and in His Word, which never changes. Because I trust in God and His Word, fear cannot take hold of me.”
Are you facing a situation right now that is bringing fear into your heart? Why not repeat the remedy for fear out loud as your declaration of trust in God?
I won’t yield to fear. I won’t focus on fear. I will turn to God. I will put my trust in Him and in His Word, which never changes. Because I trust in God and His Word, fear cannot take hold of me. Amen.
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