In an increasingly unsafe world, people are seeking safety and security. Armies face each other across vast deserts, nations arm themselves with nuclear weapons, and radical ideologies endanger millions. Closer to home, we face threats to our safety and that of our families every day. Physical safety is paramount in the minds of many.
The Bible has much to say
In the Old Testament, God promised the Israelites that they would dwell in the land in safety if they obeyed His commandments (Leviticus 25:18–19; 26:3–5; Deuteronomy 12:10). When God’s people turned away from Him and followed other gods, their safety was threatened, and the result was disaster. The ups and downs recorded in the book of Judges clearly links ancient Israel’s national safety to their obedience to God’s Word. The Hebrew word translated “safety” in the Old Testament means “a place of refuge; security, trust, confidence, and hope.” Proverbs 18:10 describes the Name of the Lord as a strong tower into which the righteous run and find safety. Safety also involves trusting in the Lord, according to Proverbs 29:25.
The New Testament does not ignore physical safety
Jesus spoke of carrying a sword for protection (Luke 22:36), and Paul was kept safe from those who would harm him physically on several occasions (Acts 9:25; 17:10; 19:30; 23:10). However, the New Testament focuses more on spiritual safety, i.e., salvation. Jesus and the New Testament writers had a great deal to say about being saved. Spiritual safety is found in only one place—faith in the shed blood of Christ in payment for our sin and in His resurrection (John 3:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8).
Are you safe spiritually?
Jesus came into the world to provide spiritual safety and eternal security to all who would believe in Him. The need for physical safety pales in comparison to the universal need for spiritual safety. One may be in great danger in this world of physical harm and still have the assurance of an eternity of security in Heaven. We fear not those who can only harm the body yet never touch the soul (Matthew 10:28).
Worldly riches are fleeting
Unfortunately, many are deceived into thinking that true security is provided by the things of the world—money, comforts, position, or power. But the safety these things provide is temporary and fleeting. Riches “surely sprout wings and fly off” – Proverbs 23:5. Nothing is sure in this world: “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” – Ecclesiastes 9:11. No worldly foundation can provide spiritual security in heaven. Paul spoke of a time to come when the Lord will return to earth. At that time, those who trust in anything other than Christ will find they have no peace or safety: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” – 1 Thessalonians 5:2–3. Those who have true wisdom will fear the Lord, the One who alone can give true security.
How can I overcome negative thinking?
Chronic negative thinking, depression, anxiety, and similar disorders are on the rise in South Africa. Fear seems to be a root cause of many of these problems. It’s no wonder people are fearful in a world where it appears nothing is reliable. It can be quite disturbing for a person to realise that almost everything in life is ultimately out of their control—from the weather to their bank account balance. All the things people rely on for their security will sooner or later fail them. But the Christian who confesses the sovereignty of an Almighty God who works all things for their good (Romans 8:28) has the antidote to negative thinking.
How is your thought life?
When a Christian’s thinking is primarily negative, anxious, or doubtful, it’s a sign of a serious lack of faith. The author of Hebrews states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” – Hebrews 11:6. According to Proverbs 29:25, fear is a trap but trust in the Lord keeps a man safe. Jesus, when boating with His disciples during a terrible storm, asked them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” – Matthew 8:26. Those who struggle with negative thinking should do the same thing they would do with any other sin—confess it (agree with God that negative thinking is wrong because it reveals a lack of trust) and make every effort to change the behaviour.
Prayer is a key part of overcoming negativity
Jesus taught that prayer should include praise to the Father and a focus on His holiness (Matthew 6:9; see also Psalm 95:2). As we pray “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6), we focus on the blessings we have received and leave no room for negative thoughts. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to help the repentant believer overcome negative thinking (Matthew 7:7–11).
We are victorious!
Daily Bible reading, particularly studies that focus on the promises of God, are of great help in overcoming negative thinking. It’s helpful to remember that, no matter how dismal the present circumstances, Christians have been promised God’s love and victory in Christ (Romans 8:37–39; 2 Corinthians 2:14).
‘Fear not’ is written in the Bible over 365 times
The Scriptures are bursting with admonitions from God to His people to overcome fear and doubt—over 350 commands to “fear not.” As a matter of fact, the one verbal encouragement Jesus gives more than any other is a call to fearless living (e.g., Matthew 6:25; 9:2; 10:28; 10:31).
What are you thinking about?
The struggle against negative thinking is a battle for the mind. The apostle Paul tells believers what to think about: things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy” – Philippians 4:8. Besides defining what thoughts should fill our minds, this text implicitly teaches that we can control what we think about. When a negative thought comes, the thinker who has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), has the ability to push it out of the mind and replace it with Godly thoughts. This takes practice, but with persistence, it gets easier. Christians must think about what they’re thinking about and not allow their minds to have free reign. In our spiritual warfare, we’ve been given the helmet of salvation—spiritual armour for the mind.
There will always be negativity
As long as Christians live in a fearful, stressful world, negative thoughts will come. We have the option of either stamping out those thoughts or nurturing them. The good news is that negative thoughts can be replaced with positive ones, and the more that Godly substitution takes place, the more peace and joy we can experience.