Turning your thoughts to praise
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Last week I wrote about the scientific discovery that the brain cannot focus on worry and praise/gratitude at the same time. Therefore, the answers to our worries are the answers God has taught, now revealed in Scripture. 

I love that science continues to prove God’s perfection!

It occurred to me that I had blogged about the need to praise but had not included some of the concrete examples from Scripture about moving our thoughts in that direction. I thought I would do that in this blog.  

Here are some concrete ways to turn your thoughts from worry to praise. 

We need to examine what we trust

I actually just finished writing a Wisdom Matters entry from Jeremiah 17:7. (If you want that content, just click the link and scroll down a bit.) God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lᴏʀᴅ, whose trust is the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Jeremiah 17:7). 

I thought a while about that verse and it occurred to me that a lot of us tend to trust in the Lord as one of our options. God repeated himself to Jeremiah with the clarification “whose trust is the Lᴏʀᴅ.”  

We have worked hard to build our lives, save our money, take care of our health, and establish our lives so that we don’t have as much to worry about each day. We find our trust for the future in a lot of different places as a result. Trusting those places causes us to put our hope in the next bank statement we receive, the next president elected to the Oval Office, or the next prescription medication to come out. We build bank accounts, investment funds, and plans for retirement, trusting that our plans will be enough. Those are good things—unless we trust them instead of God.  

God made it clear to the prophet that we need to trust in the Lord because the Lord is always the One we are able to trust. Consider the people in Ukraine. Three years ago, they trusted in a lot of the same things we trust today. 

If we want to replace our worry for the future with trust in God, we should say with the psalmist, “Praise the Lᴏʀᴅ! Oh give thanks to the Lᴏʀᴅ, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1). 

The reason our trust is the Lord is because the Lord is the only One we are able to trust completely. We don’t just praise God for all he has done, we praise God for all that he is. He is “good” and his love for us has no end; it “endures forever.” God loves us now with a perfect, enduring love. It is the same love he will show us in heaven. If you are worried about your future, remember that our trust is God. His love and our future in heaven are guaranteed. 

Aging is our blessing 

I have a big birthday this year. I’m not sure how I got to be almost sixty-five, but it happened! For the first time there are things like roller coasters and long, uphill hikes that I really can’t do anymore. I walk into my closet for a reason but only remember that reason some of the time. Aging doesn’t always feel like a blessing, but aging is our great blessing. 

After Adam and Eve sinned God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever—” (Genesis 3:22). By the way, here is a little fun Bible trivia. Notice the use of the word us in that verse. It is an early reference to the Holy Trinity.  

We often think of the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden as a punishment for their sin when, in truth, it was a provision for their eternal lives. Sin had entered the world, and God didn’t want the world to be everyone’s eternal future. Aging, and dying are our blessing. God provided a way for us to live with him again in a perfect heavenly home, the new Garden.  

We can praise God with King Solomon who wrote to encourage all believers to “remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:10). We shouldn’t be at odds with our aging bodies. Put away the fears, pains, and anxieties that can shadow the older years because the true value of our lives is that they are eternal. I know that because Job wrote, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days” (Job 12:12).  

Joy is knowing God better now than ever before. Knowing God enables us to trust him completely. 

The Lord’s lesson to Mary and Martha (and Mike and Marvin as well) 

One of the biggest problems I have with Luke 10:41–42 is that it is so often applied to only the lives of women. It’s hard to attend a Women’s Conference that doesn’t speak to this passage at some point. The truth of the Lord’s words to Mary and Martha is God’s truth for every Christian. 

For those of you who watched The Brady Bunch in the day, the Lord said, “Martha, Martha, [Martha], you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42). 

If we want to turn our thoughts to praise, we have to turn our thoughts away from worry, away from stress, and away from the normal, day-to-day concerns of living. Mary knew how to choose the best use of her time; Martha was still choosing her daily chores. And, for the men who read this blog post, remember that we all have Mary-and-Martha moments. We aren’t one or the other; we are both. 

I’ve often wished I could take back my Martha moments and have a do-over with them. It takes time to move our thoughts from worry to praise. It takes time to think through our wrong priorities so we can right them. It takes time at the feet of Jesus if we want to hear him speak.

Paul’s path to praise

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while he was sitting in Rome under house arrest. He closed his letter to that church by telling them what to think about instead of worrying about him. He wrote, “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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8–9). 

Paul could have told them to meet together and devise a plan for his escape or his time before the Roman court. He could have expressed worry about the future for his ministry. Instead, he told them to think about the things that are the opposite of worry. Take time to read and reread those verses again. When you have worries or anxiety, God, through Paul, has told you what to think about instead. 

Final verses that will turn your hearts and minds to praise 

God told Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). God created the world with that righteous right hand! What then should we ever worry about? 

King Solomon, known for his wisdom, was at the end of his life when he wrote, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). 

I spend a lot of time with my mom at her assisted living center. I am BLESSED by the smiles of those who are writing the final chapter of their stories. My time there could cause me to worry about my older years. Or I can watch them and know God has made everything beautiful in its time.  

Each time we worry, praise thoughts should be our next thoughts. The dark stuff of this life is just waiting for God’s touch to either expel it from our thoughts or turn it into something beautiful.  

Fear not. 

God has us in the palm of his righteous right hand.