Have you ever had times when it seemed your emotions were like a runaway train? They get started down that track, and try as you might, you feel helpless to stop them. How does that happen? Where does it come from? Sometimes it all starts with a thought.
You know if you were to ask yourself where the thought came from, if it’s a negative thought, it’s not from the Lord. Yet sometimes, instead of refusing to believe that thought, we think it, maybe even meditate on it. Perhaps we even start to believe it. Then come the emotions.
The roots of some of these negative emotions can go back even to our earliest memories. They are nothing new in the world. These roots and emotions have been around almost since time began.
Have you found the more you think on those kinds of thoughts, the worse you feel? They can lead you to emotions like sadness, rejection, jealousy, bitterness, fear, worry, or the feeling of being unworthy, unwanted or unloved. Or any number of other unhealthy emotions. The problem is, once you start allowing any of those negative emotions to rule you, they do become like that train. If we don’t consciously do something to stop them, they just keep rolling along.
Sometimes if we are aware of those thoughts in our minds, and we are vigilant, we are smart enough not to board that train. Other times, perhaps we may be overtired, or our guard is down, or we are feeling vulnerable and before we know it we are thinking those thoughts. That’s when the trouble can begin.
In my experience I have found when we start having those troubling thoughts and emotions there can be two major culprits behind them. Fear and/or unbelief and doubt. All of which are from the enemy.
We begin to think things like, I can’t do it. I’m afraid. I’m not good enough. People don’t like me. I don’t have what I need. I need more. I don’t pray enough. I should do more. I should do less. Or, if we allow worry to set in the what if’s begin to chime in. What if I can’t meet my needs? What if I lose my job? My friends, my house, my dog. What if I’m not smart enough, or thin enough, or just enough? You get the drift. Or here’s one. What if God is tired of me and the way I am and the things I do?
Did you notice one thing in common on all those statements? I. Me. My. When our thoughts and emotions spiral in that downward direction all we can think about is ourselves.
Emotions themselves are not bad. They can be wondrous things. Love, joy, peace, happiness, contentment etc. The Lord gave us emotions to help us and to use, not to harm us or to harm others. We are to rule our emotions they are not to rule us.
Sometimes we may not even know why we are feeling so down. Have you ever asked yourself something similar to what the Psalmist asked in Psalm 43:5 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me” When we do wonder why we feel that way, we can remember the second part of that phrase. “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Verse 6.
Praising God is one place we always find the answer for those runaway thoughts and emotions. When we purposefully focus on praising Him and thanking Him, for all that He is, and all that He does, there is no room in our minds for those negative thoughts.
It may not be easy. There are times it may be a battle to focus on praise. You may have to keep forcing your mind to go in the direction you want it to go. Left to it’s own devices the mind goes places we don’t want it to go. Sometimes it truly is a sacrifice of praise.
We can also ask the Lord to help us manage our emotions in a healthy way so that they don’t manage us. Jesus walked this earth as a human and He understands our struggles. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us “ For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
I don’t know about you but this type of runaway train is one I have been on all too often in my life. I would like to stay off that train and never climb back on.
The next time your thoughts go in that direction there is no better advice than Hebrews 4:16. “ Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” All we need to do is ask.