Day 37: Philippians 4.8
Day 37. Focus on the Good
Adapted from Philippians 4:4-8. I rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice! Dear Father, I pray that my forbearing spirit is known to all men. I know that You are always at hand. I claim Your peace that surpasses all comprehension and ask that my heart and mind be guarded in Christ Jesus. I ask that my mind dwell only on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. If there is anything excellent and worthy of praise, let my mind focus on these things. I pray all of this so that God’s peace will remain with me, and I will continue to rejoice greatly in the Lord. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
My husband and I repeat this Scripture daily. If one of us goes negative, the other repeats these words again. We feel a healthy “thought life” is that important.
In Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl describes the importance of understanding that we can choose how we think: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” He says, “You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, would add to Frankl’s instruction that we can seek out what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise. Be assured neither man is promoting “happy talk.” Frankl was living with suffering in a concentration camp everyday. He created his “Logotherapy” to help people find meaning in their lives. His process was developed to help a person be “aware of what he actually longs for in the depth of his being.” For me this sounds like seeking to find the image of God that is in each individual. Neurologist John Arden argues that an “enhanced sense of [the] meaning of life is critical as clients (who have suffered abuse) try to make sense of and accept what happened.” [Brain2Brain (p. 177).] All of this is just to say—Scripture, science and modern therapy reinforce each other. It is good for our body, mind and spirit to seek out what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise. Part of what is fascinating me in my research about how science, Scripture and good therapy are not in opposition is finding out what neurologist Arden has discovered, simply that the “brain is not hardwired but soft-wired.” He maintains that his job is to help his clients “rewire [their] brains.” [B2B (p. 5)] As a pastor I want to help people take good care of their God-given brains. This is why I use Philippians 4.8 as “food for healthy thoughts.”
We are in the middle of Holy Week. The normal challenges of each day will pluck our nervous systems. How our brains respond will have a lot to do with what we habitually choose to envision. As we anticipate Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday—can we make an effort to see what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise? If you are willing to try, could you share what you discover? You can also record reactions in the blog section of www.prayactprayagain.org.