“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7 KJV
Peace doesn’t happen by accident. Joy doesn’t happen by accident. Emotions don’t just happen to you - they are natural by-products (or results) of your focus. If you want happy emotions, then think happy thoughts. Just because you have challenging or even depressing circumstances doesn’t mean you have to be sad and depressed. You shouldn’t be subject to your emotions. Your emotions shouldn’t lead you. Your emotions are subject to your will and you should lead your emotions. When you consciously give your cares (and the things that cause you to worry) to the Lord and choose to focus on Jesus and His Word, you will experience supernatural peace and joy – even if it makes no sense to have peace or joy at that moment. His peace “passes all understanding”. In other words: it doesn’t make sense. If you deal with things according to the Word then people will look at you and think you’re nuts because you have joy and peace when you shouldn’t. They’ll see that you have an inner strength in you which is what is helping you get through difficult times (Nehemiah 8:10).
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.”
Isaiah 26:3 ASV
Peace is a by-product of your focus and your thinking. If you’re struggling to have peace, it’s probably your thought life which needs to change. If you fix your mind on the Lord and His Word, and you choose to believe Him, you will experience perfect peace.
If you want to be able to rejoice no matter what and be full of joy continually, then you will need to keep a tight reign over your thought life. Your emotions are not accidental. You may feel like a victim of your emotions - but the truth is that we control our emotions through our focus. You will always have negative things going on around you, but you don’t have to focus on them. The newspapers will always have some bad news for you. If it’s not crime or corruption, it’s economic turmoil, pain and suffering. If you focus on all of that then it will affect your emotions negatively. And I am not saying that you should bury your head in the sand and ignore what’s going on – no! Be informed and pray into things. Get involved and make a difference where you can, but don’t let the problems of this life be your main focus. If you know what’s going on in the world more than what God’s Word says, then you will have problems. Choose to focus on God’s Word (the good news) more than on the world’s problems (bad news).
The apostle Paul said that we should rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). He wrote that from prison. That shows us that we don’t have to allow our circumstances to dictate our emotions. You can be full of joy because of the Lord, even if you’re going through a challenging time. But it’s your choice. If you want the joy of the Lord to strengthen you, and if you want to be full of joy no matter what’s going on around you, then you need to do what Paul did and what he encouraged us to do: think on the right things!
“Brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honourable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.”
Philippians 4:8 GW
“Keep your thoughts on…” or “think on these things…” - Paul encourages us to focus on whatever is right, deserves praise, whatever is true, honourable, fair, pure, acceptable and commendable. In other words, focus on good things. For most people this list of what to think about just eliminated the majority of their conversation and thought life! Are there things which are not right and that don’t deserve praise? Yes. Are there things which are dishonourable, unfair and impure? Yes. We don’t deny that. We simply choose to focus on the good rather than the negative. We wouldn’t be so unhappy if we could learn to control our focus and thoughts. We have a book (the Bible) which is full of promises and good news. We have more than enough good to focus on.