When my mother had a stroke 5 years ago, her right frontal lobe was struck by the trauma of the hemorrhage on her brain. This trauma was centered in the language center, which meant that her brain no longer processed language in the correct way. Week after week, month after month, I sat in a chair and listened in awe as her speech therapist worked with my mom, urging her brain through various exercises to make connections that had been broken by the sudden blow to her language center.
During those months and the years since, I have been thinking about thinking. Having seen a tiny window of the intricacies of the brain and its miraculous working seemed to put me on high alert about my own thoughts. Maybe it’s because I am more aware of them, but it sure does seem like I have more thoughts than ever before. Some moments they are kind, benevolent, careful, sensible, loving. Some moments they are incredibly pro-Shannon. They tell me that I’m right, which is always nice and rings true to my pro-me ears. Other times they are lazy and sluggish and blah. And unfortunately, more than I care to admit, they are loud chomping piranhas fighting their way out of my mouth.
As Christians, we have God’s Word to inform of us God’s purpose for and view of our thoughts:
We are to love the Lord with all our hearts and soul and mind (the first and greatest commandment). We are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. We have the peace of God guarding our minds. We are to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, we are to think about such things.
Our thought life is directly connected to all other parts of our life. Our lives are lived largely in our thoughts. They inform our beliefs, they inform our feelings, they lead us into planning and decision making. We are prone to listen to our thoughts.
Just a quick perusal of these verses shows us something critical:
We need to take careful inventory! These Scriptures reveal to us that our thoughts can fixate on disobedience and need to be taken captive. We need the peace of God to guard our minds because chaos is clamoring for the number 1 spot. For all the true, noble, right, pure and lovely thoughts, there are equal numbers of false, impure, ugly and wrong ones shouting to be heard.
When we turn to the book of Lamentations 3, we see a man put this thought capturing into action. Lamentations, as the name suggests, is a book of lament. The picture of the author’s life and the life of his people is utterly wasted and unrecognizable in the rubble. He is face-down. His soul is downcast, he has seen horrific things, he feels that that God has abandoned him and that he has experienced the wrath of God. His lament is great and overwhelming. But suddenly, buried in the rubble of the author’s plight we read these words:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…”
This is startling and unexpected — this sudden about-face — this declaration of hope in the middle of deep, soul crushing lament —We are on the edge of our seats, what is it that gives hope to this one who is drowning in lamentation? He begins to think the truth that he has believed:
“The steadfast Love of God never ceases.
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul.
Therefore, I will hope in him.”
Our writer knows that when we are drowning in our own minds, starving from our own malnourished thoughts, we have to pull GREATER truth from the rubble and tell our minds true things — greater things than what our eyes may see, or our own thoughts may be telling us. Our Lamentations writer shows us what is of infinitely higher value that our own thoughts — God’s thoughts! —written for us so we may have life in them. There are 757,439 Words in my Bible. Words from the LORD! Thoughts from the LORD given to us!
Like all humankind before us, we are a forgetful people. Our thoughts have been broken under the trauma of sin and our fallen nature. The truths of God’s Word rewire us in our deepest thoughts. But, we must take them captive. So, when our thoughts are discouraged or in despair, when they are indignant or prideful or angry, when they are confused or lonely or defeated or just plain lazy, take them captive. Bring them under the true words of God himself.
I love you with an everlasting love.
I am faithful to a thousand generations.
I have made a covenant with you.
I will never leave you or forsake you.
Because of the great love I have for you, Christ died for you.
Think about these things.
Call this to mind, – And hope will rise!
Fix your eyes (and mind!) on Jesus, the author and perfecter or your faith. See Jesus, reigning and ruling at the right hand of God. No force can unseat Christ, no force can snatch you from His hand. The day is coming when you will see Him face to face as He is – when all the cares of this world will vanish like mist and you will enter into the visible presence of Jesus. We will never forget again. Our faith that is shaky and forgetful will snap into the clearest focus. Our faith will become sight and we will see Him as he is. Until then, may we be Christians who think the thoughts of God found in his Word, who lift them up in the midst of the rubble of the world and bring hope to the all who are around us.
“For this we call to mind, and therefore we have hope…”