Opinion: the power of thought

Faith in Cambridge

By Murray Smith
Senor Leader Bridges Church

A phrase sometimes accompanies a gesture or gift being offered that is perhaps a bit on the modest side. “It’s the thought that counts,” we say and it’s intended to kind of mitigate against the offering being somewhat mundane.

Actually, it’s a potent phrase because our ‘thoughts’ really do count in more ways than most of us might ever consider. Our thoughts, our thinking processes and what goes on in the mind determines everything about the course of our lives…for good or bad.

There’s a proverb in the Bible which says “as a person thinks within himself, so is he.”

It’s a powerful insight into how thoughts influence and govern the behaviours and actions that we ultimately live out.

We need to guard our minds and to fill them with the truth. What occupies our minds and our thinking is very powerful.

I read a report of a railway worker in Russia who accidentally found himself stuck inside a refrigerated rail-freight carriage. Realising no one knew where he was and that he could not make himself heard, he began to prepare himself for what he believed was inevitable. His death. His mind told him he was doomed. Over the coming hours he began to write thoughts on the walls of his prison… ‘freezing cold now’… harder and harder to breathe’… ‘weakening, can’t be much longer now’… ‘the end is close…’

The next day the worker was found dead in the railway carriage. The remarkable thing was the refrigeration unit was inoperative, it was not freezing cold, there was no shortage of air to breathe, in fact there was nothing in his environment to claim the railway worker’s life. Reading his scrawled notes it was concluded the man had ‘thought himself to death’. He imagined there was no way he could live and therefore his body gave up.

Fears, anxiety, insecurities, inferiority, and a raft of emotional issues that people face wreak such destruction. From activating events, perhaps a trauma back in childhood, we form conclusions about those events, misbeliefs can result which incubate in our mind, to be lived out in our experience.

I often see misbeliefs that people have carried about themselves which originated during childhood. As children we are active receivers of information but poor interpreters of that information. A child experiencing shame, humiliation or being mocked for attempting things, readily forms mental conclusions that they are a reject, a failure, useless and inadequate. That thought, like a seed, grows in the mind – with it the decision to protect themselves from ever attempting anything much in life for fear of further shame or failure. False conclusions and negative thoughts accumulate in our minds like information on a computer hard drive – data banks of painful thoughts and conclusions rob so many lives.

A freeing miracle occurring in the mind of a person coming to genuine faith is summed up well in the following line from the Bible.

“God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

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