By: Stephanie Hall
Whew! Last night was my daughter’s high school graduation followed by a lovely outdoor celebration afterward at my home. As I survey the “aftermath” this morning, I am re-living the evening: the excitement and nervousness on my daughter’s face, the family and friends who came to congratulate and love on her, the fact that it rained only 1 hour into the party (did I mention my house is too small for the number of guests), how I forgot to get people to write notes of advice for the graduate in the Dr. Seuss book,…. How quickly my thoughts turned to the negative! Shame on me.
Focusing on the negative, the what DIDN’T happen, is a tactic from Satan to get us to overlook God’s blessing and His perfect plan. We are called to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8). I used to think my tendency to notice (and point out) the “mistakes” was because I am a teacher: it’s my job to let students know what is wrong and how to fix it. ….Mentally insert silence…crickets chirping…. The reality is that it’s a part of EVERY person’s human nature to focus on what we perceive as an error or as a fault in something or someone else. Dwelling on the negative can lead to discontentment, broken relationships, and depression. But thanks to Jesus, we do not have to submit to our human nature because we as Christians have the Holy Spirit, allowing us to overcome our flesh, be a new creation, and have the mind of Christ! Hallelujah!
I have been so amazingly blessed by God, why would I focus on what I perceive as the negative? Even when things aren’t as I’d like them to be, God is in control. All the time. (Psalm 103:19) His will is good, pleasing, and perfect. (Romans 12:2). He causes ALL things to work for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28). Things that may even have been intended for evil, God will use for good. (Genesis 50:20) The bottom line is that, as Christians, we can rejoice in Jesus no matter what. And that rejoicing is a witness to others. (Philippians 4:4 – 5)
Face it…some things are truly rotten: death, sickness, separation, hurt. And they truly are a real part of our lives on earth. Sin brought some awful consequences to us while we inhabit the earth. But not even these can separate us from the love of Christ. So in the day-to-day things, let’s focus on the Philippians 4:8’s of life and of others. Let’s not be misled by the Enemy who would seek to distract us from our God who loves and cares for us. And let’s go clean up the “aftermath” of the graduation party…joyfully! J