The Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Philippi… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8) Interestingly, he wrote these words soon after his release from prison. It seems he was letting everyone know that he was not interested in criticizing the political leaders who had imprisoned him or discussing the negative details of his prison experience. It would have been a ripe time for many “ain’t it awful” and what went wrong conversations. But Paul was not going there. He planned to keep his focus on thinking about what was good (God) and encouraged the Philippians to do the same.
Paul knew that whatever we give our attention and thoughts to will increase and multiply. Energy follows intention and focus. Emerson echoed this idea saying, “Stand guard at the portal of your mind.”
We have a choice to make in every moment. Focus on what is positive or on what is negative. Focus on the negative feeds and reinforces the very negativity we do not want. Focus on the good (God) and looking for it in all people and all things, feeds and reinforces love, peace and well-being for all.
The practice of focusing on the good (God) is not a pretense that pain, suffering, violence, loss, poverty, sickness, death and all other human crises do not exist. These conditions do exist. They are facts that cannot be denied. However, they are but a part of the story. The rest of the story is that right in the midst of the most disturbing facts is also good (God).
No doubt, in the aftermath of crises such as mass shootings, devastating natural disasters, continuing wars, displacement of large groups of people, the rising number of deaths from suicide and drug overdoses, many people are frightened and unsure of their futures. Their pain touches our hearts and it is easy to be drawn into focusing on the negative circumstances, but a better focus for our energy is to look for even the smallest good (God) in the circumstances.
Certainly, we want to extend compassion and tangible help, when possible, to those around us who are hurting and striving to reestablish stability in their lives. However, while we see and deal with the facts, it is important to also think about that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and praise worthy in the situation. If we look for good (God), we will see it.
Even in the midst of our current global and national hurt and chaos, good (God) is also present. It cannot be otherwise, for God is the everywhere presence of Good. We can see this good (God) in the efforts of those who are giving their time, talents and deep caring to provide counseling, food, shelter, money and medical care to those in need. We can see good (God) in the tireless work of political leaders, spiritual leaders, emergency workers, support groups, teachers, businesses and thousands of individuals like you and me, who are striving to assist in bringing order and restoration to the lives of those who are in experiences of great loss. We can see good (God) in the faith of those who are diligently praying and working toward restoration, peace, healing, social justice, reconciliation and abundance for all who have been affected by the dramatic and unexpected events of our times. We can see good (God) in the examples of those who have chosen to focus on what right and good (God) thing they can personally do to be helpful. But, we can see the good (God), only if we look for it.
Looking for the good (God) does not necessarily imply agreement with everything that is happening. Changes may well be needed and appropriate. However, while working toward those changes, we can make a commitment to keep our thoughts on God no matter how things appear. This will automatically rule out harsh judgments, blaming and hostile actions. A focus on God ensures that we are compassionate and open to loving resolutions and highest outcomes for all.
Whatever is showing up in your personal life, our church, our country or around the world, I invite you to join me in thinking about that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and praise worthy. I know if we look for it, we will find the good (God).