Charles Dickens, (1812–1870), the popular, prolific author of Britain’s Victorian Age, penned a poignant introduction to his famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859. Now that was a long time ago, yet his description of that time certainly fits this modern age. He wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
As the events of each day unfold in the United States of America, or wherever in the world that you may reside, the details of his colorful portrayal are playing out all around you. Prosperity exists alongside poverty, opulence next to squalor, productivity in view of wasteful negligence. Every day seems to bring a mass shooting in a place where people should be able to go about their business or leisure in safety. Acts of terrorism by zealots or extremists of various ilks occur around the world with bloody regularity.
Cultural rot in the form of illicit drug abuse, gender confusion, the sexualization of almost everything, abortion on demand, and corruption in all levels of government and society are rampant. Political leaders point fingers and attribute motives, but are seemingly not able to agree on anything constructive or productive by way of solutions. Social media fans the flames of hatred and acrimony. In the face of these stresses and mounting pressures, many people are deeply troubled as anxiety takes a toll on the quality of their life. For some, these conditions bring the “winter of despair.”
How can one stay positive, upbeat, and cheerful as they go about their life? Is there a way to face these intractable problems without being overwhelmed with discouragement? Actually, there is a way, but not many find it because it is found in a book that most do not read or know much about. It may surprise you to know that the way to find peace of mind is found in the Bible.
The prophet Isaiah had a difficult message to deliver in troubled times, and yet he had this timeless advice about seeking God and His will: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). Peace of mind can be an elusive thing, but those who seek God and His righteousness can have it (Matthew 6:33).
Ezekiel, another prophet sent to a troubled nation, was told by God to “…look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you…” (Ezekiel 40:4) In other words, don’t be distracted, but focus or “zero in” on what God has for you.
How can we “fix our mind”? How can we be certain that our mind is “stayed” on God? The Psalmist wrote about this in a beautiful acrostic poem (each stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet) found in Psalm 119. Verse 11 states, “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” Verses 15–16 tell us to think, consider and enjoy the study of the Bible, “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” Verse 37 is a vital key to uncluttering your mind, when it states, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in Your way.” By avoiding worthless things, you will have more time to focus on the eternal principles found in the Bible. Finally, verse 165, a valuable memory verse, contains this promise, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” Notice, “great peace”—not a shallow passing emotion, but genuine peace of mind that will be ample for all your needs.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, who took the blows and had the scars for boldly proclaiming the Good Message of Jesus Christ and the coming Kingdom of God, was inspired to write this in the midst of his trials, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
While it may seem to be an oversimplification, it is true none the less. In times of stress, “fix your mind” on what God has for you and you will have “the peace which passes all understanding.”
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