Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7 NIV

An Anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25 NIV 

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 every situation, 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Philippians 4:4-9 NIV

In the fall of 2018, my husband and I grieved because our beloved son Joshua was taken home to be with Jesus. We became intimate with the various normal responses to grief. A common one is replaying a loved one’s final weeks, days, hours, moments before and immediately after death. A grieving person can get caught up in a cycle of thoughts that continue in our minds on a loop it seems, at the time, difficult to stop. This is a normal reaction to grief, but it is not healthy to stay there forever in our minds for weeks, months or even years.

When I was in high school I experienced this to a lesser degree – often while lying in bed – thinking and worrying about everything in my life. Over time I learned that for me by talking about my problems with another person, or simply writing down those thoughts, they were no longer so enormous and unsolvable as they had seemed lying in bed at night.

If we are honest with ourselves we would all admit to having many anxious thoughts over the past year. But I believe Peter, Solomon, the Psalmist and Paul have advice that can help us with our anxious thoughts. First, we need to rejoice and praise our God – for he is near to us and he is good. Second, we need to pray, and to continually give our anxious thoughts to God, he wants us to share EVERYTHING with him in all circumstances. Third, when we find ourselves thinking those anxious thoughts over and over again, STOP – take a step back, make a conscious effort to think about, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is praiseworthy – think about such things,” Philippians 4:8. We need to put our trust in God’s unfailing love, he will help us. But we have a part to play, we do have control over our thoughts and what we choose to spend time thinking, praying, meditating on. If you are grieving over a loved one, make a choice to spend time remembering the positive memories you have of that person. If you lost something else, focus on something positive from 2020. Perhaps listening to music, reading an uplifting book, or looking at pictures or beautiful art may help refocus your thoughts.

By Grace Hunter

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