Psalm 57

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts- men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet- I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path- but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

The Apostle Paul had this same idea in mind when he wrote to the Church at Philippi. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. (Phil. 4:4-7) Nothing makes our enemies more frustrated than our refusal to let them get us down. In what are surely the first words ever written on positive thinking, Paul continued with advice on how to maintain our joy in the face of adversity. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9)

In this and other places Paul taught that even though we can’t always control the circumstances of our lives, we can control our reaction to them. And by focusing our thoughts on the good things in our lives, especially the blessings of God, we can mitigate the discouragement and other emotional damage that experiencing difficult times might otherwise do to us. The reason is that with all the enormous power of the human brain, there is one limitation. At the conscious level our minds can only process one thought at a time. Somehow Paul knew that if he could persuade us to fill our minds with pure, noble, praiseworthy thoughts, then we’d be unable to focus on our unpleasant circumstances, and would be better equipped to endure them.

Following his advice proves to be especially effective first thing in the morning. David, being a musician, sang his praises to God. Others read the Scriptures or listen to worship music. I spend time in prayers of thanksgiving. If you’ve never done this, or have unwittingly stopped, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you take it up. It really helps get the day off to a good start and provides an anchor for our faith during those times when the winds of controversy threaten to blow us off course.