Dear Brethren and Friends, Enormous problems lie just ahead. As the society we have known all our lives begins to come apart, as the American and British-descended peoples are truly humbled through world events, we can expect much more anxiety and mental illness among our peoples and the traumatic end-time events will powerfully affect allnations. For Jesus Himself described the coming time of “…men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:26).
In this time of great distress, there will be more emotional and mental breakdowns, more broken homes, more suicides and more profound anguish than at any time in human history. Again, as Jesus Christ said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Brethren, how can you and I keep our faith and live a balanced life in such times as this? How can we maintain and even increase our mental health?
We have had some fine sermons and articles on physical health. But we need to realize how vital it is to be constantly guarding our mental health. For thousands of doctors and health professionals have acknowledged that many, if not most, of our ailments originate in our own minds—in the emotional and spiritual attitudes and ways of thinking that we have developed.
In his very insightful and helpful book, None of These Diseases, Dr. S. I. McMillen, M.D., explains: “Peace does not come in capsules! This is regrettable because medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of our sicknesses. Estimates vary from 60 percent to nearly 100 percent. Emotional stress can cause high blood pressure, toxic goiter, migraine headaches, arthritis, apoplexy, heart trouble, gastrointestinal ulcers, and other serious diseases too numerous to mention. As physicians we can prescribe medicine for the symptoms of these diseases, but we cannot do much for the underlying cause—emotional turmoil. It is lamentable that peace does not come in capsules.”
And Dr. John A. Schindler, M.D., relates in his outstanding book, How To Live 365 Days A Year: “One of the outstanding things, for instance, about EII (emotionally induced illness) is that over 50 per cent of those seeking medical aid today have it. Put it differently: If you become ill tomorrow, or if you are ill today, the chances are a little better than 50–50 that you are ill with EII. Or, still another way of putting it: A big textbook of medicine, such as medical students use, contains the account of roughly 1,000 different diseases that this human clay of ours is subject to. One of these diseases, emotionally induced illness, is as common as all the other 999 put together!” (p. 19).
Brethren, in my 62 years of full-time service in this Work, I have personally seen hundreds of people who were literally made “sick” because of their attitudes and their emotions. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you are eating, it’s what is eating you!”
The Bible is absolutely filled with examples of people’s emotional state destroying them. It certainly shows that we should, with God’s help, powerfully control our minds and emotions. Remember how Saul, the king of Israel, was forcefully knocked down—partly because of the depth of his emotions? When God’s prophet Samuel warned him of his coming defeat and death in an upcoming battle, then “Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel” (1 Samuel 28:20).
Remember also the story of the beautiful Abigail. She was the wife of an extremely arrogant and wicked man named Nabal. He had been so hateful toward David and his warriors that they had determined to kill him—until Abigail intervened. When she told him of this the next morning, Nabal was so upset “that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died” (1 Samuel 25:37–38). Certainly, there are many instances of people becoming totally upset and in such a furious rage that they do have a heart attack or some other tragedy—bringing on their death. Emotions are powerful!
In many different places, inspired Scripture directs us to guide our mind and emotions in a positive direction. Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” If, in spite of trials and problems, we can learn to “see the positive” side of things—and have a reasonably positive and at times even a “merry” heart—we will live longer, accomplish more in the end and be a better servant of Almighty God.
Even though he was imprisoned and had to wear a “chain”—probably fastened between his ankles as a political prisoner—the Apostle Paul wrote the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). A few verses later he instructed them, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (v. 8).
God tells us again and again in Scripture that we should concentrate on the positive—on the “bright side of life.” He wants us to do so for our mental health—and our physical health as well! I well remember back during the Second World War as I was growing up in junior high and high school, how helpful and important it was that we had such a positive type of music coming over the radio on a regular basis. Songs such as, “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” and lyrics such as, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mister In-Between” characterized the positive and optimistic attitudes conveyed to the American people over and over during the dark days of the Second World War. Perhaps those types of songs are looked on as a little “dated” or “sentimental” by the younger generation today. However, frankly, today’s young people may not realize how much they need this kind of attitude, imparting these kinds of emotions, in the trials they are going through now and even worse trials we will all go through within a few years! We certainly do need to “accentuate the positive.” As Christians, we need to meditate on Paul’s instruction in verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
As Christians, we need to constantly remind ourselves of God’s promises, such as: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We need to regularly review and rehearse the inspired statement of Paul in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” And again: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31).
King David, the “man after God’s own heart,” was inspired by God to write: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:3–5). And again: “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him” (vv. 39–40).
In order to be positive, it is important that we surround ourselves with positive people and positive situations as best we can. In Proverbs 13:20 we are instructed: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” If we surround ourselves with positive friends and associates, we will much more likely have a positive attitude ourselves. For they will not be constantly “pulling us down.” And we should always try to “pull them up” with God’s help!
That is why God’s word instructs us: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26). Again, in the preceding verse, God tells us, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (v. 25). So being around positive people and creating positive situations for ourselves and loved ones can help us avoid undue anxiety and depression. For these attitudes bring on physical illness, mental illness and sometimes even premature death. Nearly all mental health workers know this. I hope all of you brethren can understand and take action. For we must be those positive leaders in the Work of the living God helping to prepare for Jesus Christ’s Kingdom over the next several years! Again, in the pages of inspired Scripture, God tells us: “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13). It certainly indicates that man’s “spirit” or attitude—is “broken” by the lack of a cheerful heart and a positive approach to life.
“Keys” To Building Positive Emotions
Brethren, what are some of the key practices that can help us all develop positive emotions and positive attitudes in the years to come? Here are a few I would like all of you to consider and use:
I. Emphasize in all your thinking that God is truly your “Father” and your Deliverer.
Throughout the Bible, God pictures Himself as the One who watches over His children. Jesus told us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).
II. Cultivate positive friends—and seek a positive approach to life in the television programs, Internet productions and other materials you view and read.
Again, read Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4:8. In this key passage, God, inspired Paul to teach us to meditate on the “good things”—on the good, clean, positive aspects of life. In spite of massive human mistakes and failures, we should take time to read about and talk about the good and “noble” things our leaders and ancestors have done. And we should enrich our lives by contemplation on the “lovely” aspects of life, the beautiful parts of this world, the lovely music, art, literature and things that uplift us.
III. Strongly avoid negativism.
Learn to stay away from negative people and situations as best you can. And absolutely avoid the approach of resentment, confrontation and bitterness toward others even in your own heart! As Jesus instructed: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15). So we must absolutely forgive others “from the heart” if we are to be forgiven by God and if we, ourselves, want to have a truly positive and loving attitude and outflowing concern that brings peace to ourselves and to others!
IV. Improve your physical health.
Although it does not fit in the mental and spiritual areas I have been discussing, physical exercise is truly a vital part of learning to be happy and positive. Many of you know this. But it has been absolutely demonstrated that people who get out and take a long walk, play a game of tennis or racket ball or indulge in some vigorous physical activity have their endorphin levels raised, their attitudes improved and they do definitely “feel better” in every way because of being involved in physical exercise. So learn all the aspects of this and use this tool!
V. Draw closer to God.
As indicated in all of the above, you must constantly “feed on” Christ and on God’s attitudes by drinking in of His word, deliberately guiding your mind into positive channels and doing all you can to build this type of approach in your mind, your heart and your life.
Dear brethren, as we approach the dark days of the coming Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord, let us “get ready” by building attitudes of hope, faith and positive thinking, which the Bible—over and over—tells us to do. This is a vital part of true Christianity. It is not to be done just by “pumping ourselves up” into an imaginary euphoria. Rather, it is learning to really trust that God’s word is true and that He will take care of us if we truly walk with Him. One of the most inspiring verses in the entire Bible on this topic is found in Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
Brethren, the years just ahead of us will not be “pretty”! We are entering the darkest days of human history and we must prepare ourselves. As during the Second World War, we must learn to “accentuate the positive.” We must learn to put our total faith and trust in God. We must profoundly realize that Satan, our adversary, will do everything he can to destroy us. He will send out “waves” of discouraging and disorienting and disillusioning attitudes. We must learn to resist him. For God commands us: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
We must learn to look above and beyond our immediate surroundings. As the Apostle Paul was inspired to tell us: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1–2). We truly do need to focus on the reality of Christ’s coming Kingdom and the magnificent opportunities we will all have in Tomorrow’s World. We must contemplate and seek “those things which are above” where Christ and God the Father are sitting and planning out a magnificent future for every one of us. For God is our Father. So we must “set our minds” on things above. We must not concentrate on, or be hurt or disillusioned by, the things here in this confused and rebellious world. May God help all of us to do this with all our hearts and to “fight the good fight.” Then, we may join the Apostle Paul and sincerely declare with him: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8).
With Christian love,