Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
The trajectory of his life seemed doomed. Every time he turned around there was some new problem or controversy coming his way. It started small like it always does, and his focus on God did not waver right away. Then, the problems he encountered seemed to get progressively greater in magnitude and seriousness. Annoyance turned into stress, and stress gave way to anxiety. Before he knew it, the only thing he could think about was his mountain of problems. If anyone asked how he was doing his answer was never positive. The trials he had to endure consumed his attention and his mind. His world had become a realm of negativity, and it was like he had forgotten that there is any goodness at all.
God knows exactly how easy it is for our emotions to be driven by our circumstances. That certainly can be the case when one’s life seems to be one calamity or tragedy after another. However, all of the negative things we experience in this world do not negate the goodness that God has shown us and makes available to us daily. Meditating on that which is worthy of praise reminds us to praise Him regardless of what we must endure here. Meditating on that which is excellent reminds us that there is no imperfection that is so great it can keep us from the perfect eternity which awaits us. Where the mind is focused there the heart will be inclined. God graciously gives us the freedom to be focused on his goodness in the midst of evil and pain.
The man who trains himself to walk over long stretches of hot coals will repeat the mantra “mind over matter.” He is not far from God’s recommended approach to the negativity we encounter in this life. We can let sadness control us, or we can control sadness with joy. We can let disappointment change our expectations, or we can remain hopeful despite our track records. Those are choices which God gives us because the focus of the mind is critical to having a right attitude. The reality of God’s goodness should be great enough to brighten any darkness we encounter in this life. Father, teach us how to keep our minds set on only the things which are worthy of our focus and which keep us inclined to You.