Three Ways to Fight Negative Emotions
Seasons of depression, anxiety, and sadness are nothing new — some of the most famous biblical heroes did not escape them. David wrote many of the Psalms out of a spirit of anxiety and fear. Paul wrote that he was “so utterly burdened beyond (his) strength that (he) despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8).” Moses and Elijah both struggled under the weight of their calling (Numbers 11, I Kings 19). Even Christ himself sweat tears of blood in the garden as he faced the agony of the cross (Luke 22:42-44).
Here are three practical ways scripture teaches us how we can move forward from a depressed or anxious mood:
Take your thoughts captive.
When you wake up and thoughts immediately flood into your head, who’s doing the thinking? It’s not you! We can’t let our minds run on idle — we have to be the one who’s consciously choosing what to think. We have to monitor, challenge, and rewrite our thoughts.
Our job is to see ourselves as God sees us. That means we have to think His thoughts — the ones He’s already written about us in scripture — over our hearts and minds. Because our thoughts don’t cooperate and are driven by either our own flesh or our enemy, satan, we have to take them captive:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
King David knew this to be true. In Psalm 43:5 he writes “Why are you downcast, oh my soul?” Who is he talking to here? Himself! He is taking captive his thoughts and running them instead of letting them run him.
To take something captive means to take it by force — the biblical language here is violent. We must wrestle our thoughts to the ground and “make” them obedient to Christ. Thinking is not a passive sport but an active one. As we do this more and more, it will become second nature.
Meditate on scripture.
The secular practice of meditation calls you to empty your mind — a very dangerous practice, because God tells us only to fill it:
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. Philippians 4:8
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night. Psalm 63:5-6
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:12
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Psalm 119:148
When faced with temptation and with the cross, Jesus always turned to and quoted scripture. When we encounter negative emotions, we are called to do the same.
Turn up the worship.
Scripture says that God provides the garment of praise in exchange for a spirit of despair or a faint spirit (Isaiah 61:3). When you are sad or anxious, get up. Listen to worship music. Sing or speak God’s praise out loud. Join the community in corporate worship on the weekend. Lift up your voice and lift your spirits.
Don’t let negative emotions run the show; fight back with His promises and HIs glory, and be bold in the Spirit:
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:39
by Senior Pastor Mike Adkins