In the “winter of despair,” where can we find a “spring of hope”?
In his famous A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens described the world of his novel: “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 season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….”
Though published in 1859, his words are still playing out all around us. Prosperity exists alongside poverty, opulence next to squalor, productivity alongside wasteful negligence. Every month seems to bring another mass shooting in a place where people should be able to go about their business or leisure in safety. Zealots and extremists carry out acts of terrorism around the world with bloody regularity.
Cultural rot is rampant in substance abuse, gender-bending, abortion on demand, the sexualization of almost everything, and corruption at all levels of government and society. Political leaders, pointing fingers and attributing motives, cannot agree on anything productive. Social media often fan flames of hatred and acrimony. Many people are deeply troubled, and anxiety ruins their quality of life. Far too many face the “winter of despair.”
How can one stay positive, upbeat, and cheerful in the midst of adversity? Is there a way to face such intractable problems yet not be overwhelmed by discouragement? Actually, there is—but not many find it because it is found in a book that most do not read or know much about. The way to peace of mind is found in the Bible.
The prophet Isaiah gave 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 elusive, but those who seek God and His righteousness can have it (Matthew 6:33). God told Ezekiel, another prophet sent to a troubled nation, 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 on what God has for you.
How can we “fix our mind”? How can we know that our mind is “stayed” on God? We read, “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” (Psalm 119:10–11). We should consider, appreciate, and remember the words 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” (vv. 15–16).
Another vital key to uncluttering our minds? “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (v. 37). As we avoid “worthless things,” we gain time to focus on eternal principles found in Scripture. Finally, we read, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (v. 165). Great peace—not shallow, passing emotion, but genuine peace of mind.
Even while facing great trials, the Apostle Paul—who took blows and had scars for boldly proclaiming Jesus Christ’s message of the coming Kingdom of God—was inspired to write, “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).
This may seem too simple to be true, but it is true nonetheless. In times of stress, “fix your mind” on what God has for you and you will have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” For more encouragement and help in finding peace of mind, be sure to check out the Tomorrow’s World telecast “Peace of Mind Through Personal Prayer.” You’ll be happy you did.