By Don Clowers
“The secret to overcoming every unpleasant issue in life lies in how we choose
to think. How we think is the starting point of handling life’s problems.”
God wants you to be happy. If you are looking around today, you might not think so. Losses, disappointments, and the decisions of others can cloud our lens of God’s good intentions. In our own life and ministry, my wife and I have faced betrayals, financial setbacks, the near-fatal accident of our six-year-old daughter, and the death of our fifteen-year-old son. Heartbreaks and calamity are common to us all. Yet, ever since Eden, God’s intentions have been clear. He wants his family to enjoy a life of abundance and happiness. The secret to overcoming every unpleasant issue in life lies in how we choose to think. How we think is the starting point of handling life’s problems.
What Do You Think?
You might recall the story in the book of Acts, where the Apostle Paul stood trial before King Agrippa. I have read the story many times, but recently I saw something I had never noticed before. The story goes like this. Paul was in prison. The many charges against him included insurrection for allegedly coming against the Law, the Temple, and even Caesar himself. Paul was innocent of the trumped-up charges, none of which could be proved. But that did not stop two Roman governors, Felix and Festus, from unlawfully condemning him to prison. At that point, Paul had a decision to make. He could fold under pressure, give in to his fate, or rise up and fight for justice. As a Jew, he knew his rights, but how he would think and respond to his situation was his choice. Instead of reacting to the biased decisions of these governors, Paul chose to go over their heads. As a Roman citizen, he filed an appeal to King Agrippa to have his case presented to the higher court of Caesar Nero. In the middle of an unpleasant situation, Paul chose how he would think, resulting in one of the greatest overturning of circumstances recorded in the Bible. Here’s how it went.
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You are permitted to speak for yourself.’ So, Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,’…” (Acts 26:1-2 NKJV; emphasis mine).
He chose to create his own inner environment by choosing his thoughts, regardless of the thoughts, accusations, or intentions of others. He chose to think himself happy.
Whatever You Think
We have all been challenged by life experiences. As long as we live, we will have to decide how we will handle those challenges. Our decisions will be based on how and what we think. Where we are in our lives right now is the direct outcome of decisions based on our thinking at every crossroad. Many people feel their circumstances at the starting point of life put them at a disadvantage. Injustices, abuses, and bad things have happened that make life seem unfair. Let me settle that one for you: Life is not fair. God never promised anyone it would be. The quicker you get that straight, the happier you will be. You do not get to choose your beginning, but you do have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to choose where you end up. Jesus was the first to warn about the trials, tribulations, and hardships we would all face. He did not say he would remove them. In my book, Think Myself Happy, I show how deep-seated beliefs can be uprooted and replace thoughts that trigger bad habits, depression, and despair. How we choose to think is critical. We can either think about how unfair, unkind, or ugly the situation is and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can think about how Jesus has already overcome it. What we think about right in the middle of trouble will determine the outcome. We get to choose.
Learning to navigate through unhappy circumstances has never been more important than it is now. In a culture of polarizing opinions, heightened emotions, and a shifting economy, many feel the world is coming apart. The generations that follow us need our experienced life to teach, train, and be an example of Christ to a confused and hurting world. One of my favorite reminders from the Bible is, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8, KJV; emphasis mine). How do you handle life’s challenges? What do you think? Be encouraged, friend. You can think yourself happy today.
Don Clowers is a seasoned evangelist, teacher, and pastor, who has ministered nationally and abroad for over fifty years. Known in international evangelical circles, Don conducted tent revivals and mass crusades for tens of thousands. He is the author of several books, including his latest, soon-to-be-published, Think Myself Happy.
If you do not have a Bible please email [email protected] and Living Magazine will gladly send you one.