In taking this picture it subsequently prompted the greater significance and wisdom of taking every thought captive. This post is a bit long but relevant to soul-care.
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 43:5)
Necklace knots are incredibly difficult to untangle and unfortunately the longer and thinner the chain, the more challenging the knot! Trying to pry the tangle apart can make the knot even tighter or snap the chain, breaking the necklace completely. However, with some lubricant, small picking tools, and patience, you can unknot the tangled necklace in minutes.
A simple procedure for a necklace but not so much with a fractured, flawed mind and/or damaged emotions that have been grossly stained by abuse, abandonment, rejection, neglect or brokenness resulting in despair.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)
Hope deferred, now that’s despair.
Webster’s definition of despair: “loss of hope; hopelessness; someone or something that causes hopelessness.”
I have a good friend who struggles with mental illness, has certainly felt hopeless and overwhelmed with despair. She desperately loves Jesus too. The suffering she experiences on a daily basis penetrates into every part of her being but she clings to Jesus like no other I’ve known. She’s learning to take every thought captive to Christ, and as she perseveres healing comes. Some may ask “Why God?” I say “Why not?” Her life in Christ has become more deeper, more richer, more dependent giving God glory. GRACE lingers in her midst 24/7 in her weakness… making her strong not in herself… but in Christ. It reminds me of another who has and continues to suffer, Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni eloquently points out, “God uses suffering to purge sin from our lives, strengthen our commitment to Him, force us to depend on grace, bind us together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity, discipline our minds, spend our time wisely, stretch our hope, cause us to know Christ better, make us long for truth, lead us to repentance of sin, teaches us to give thanks in time of sorrow, increases faith, and strengthens character.” For those who don’t know… Joni became a quadriplegic after a diving accident at the young age of 17.
Life is full of tangles and knots.
A tangled necklace is a good example, a visual picture of what a troubled, fractured mind and emotional chaos looks like. Illustrating quite frankly and very well its frustration, a distorted swirling, downward spiral of thoughts. The twisting, churning, turning upside down and around to the point of exhaustion beyond exhausted ending in an inability to untwine itself from stinking thinking. A giving up which says… “Why try? It’s simply not worth it. I’m not worth it. It’s just too hard.”
Do you know where stinking thinking comes from?
The enemy of our soul, the devil, the one who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy and it begins with our thought life.
Thoughts from the enemy. The one who seeks to take advantage of all of us but more so the abused, exploited, vulnerable soul.
Satan loves to create doubt and what better way to do it but through the psychological – intellectual senses: a pathway that includes the mind and emotions. An unreasonable doubt which questions the goodness of God.
The thief (Satan, the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
It happened one day in the Garden.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)
The serpent spoke, Eve listened, doubt emerged, a thought was taken captive, and she questioned it, “Has God indeed said…?”
And so it begins.
What does it mean to take a thought captive? From Satan’s point a view, to believe a lie about God.
And in taking that thought captive from Satan, which clearly is a deceptive thought, what is its intent, result? Doubt, bondage, death, separation from God.
Webster’s dictionary defines ‘captive’ as one “captured and kept in a prison, cage, etc., forced to watch or listen to something because you cannot leave.”
Let’s reflect on the Apostle Paul for a moment.
Paul’s call for spiritual soldiering was no retreat from sound thinking. He spoke of arguments to be undermined and destroyed – those that oppose the knowledge of God. Paul faced a multitude of erroneous assertions – including that he was not a true apostle and was only passing himself off as one for self-aggrandizement. Thus, his strategy involved using Word-empowered reasoning to tear down barriers erected against the truth (cf. Acts 17:16-34; 18:4; 19:8-10). But Paul did not stop with the task of demolishing falsehood; his goal was “to take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This remarkable phrase can be rendered “to take as prisoner of war.” Every thought that is in rebellion to God must be made a prisoner of war and be made to submit to the authority of God in Christ Jesus as Lord.
Let’s be clear, this is what it means to “take every thought captive”…
A THOUGHT not from God MUST BE TAKEN as prisoner of war and MADE TO SUBMIT to the authority of God in Christ!
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
* GOD THOUGHTS reflect TRUTH not lies, negativity, dishonesty, or deception.
* GOD THOUGHTS are HONEST not dishonest, secretive, controlling, manipulative.
* GOD THOUGHTS are PURE not unclean, sinful, filthy, perverse.
* GOD THOUGHTS are JUST not victimizing, self-pitying, distrusting, comparing, self-righteous, debating with God, demanding justice and rights for self.
* GOD THOUGHTS are LOVELY not ugly, impatient, self-hating, hardness, unloving.
* GOD THOUGHTS reflects a GOOD REPORT not engaged in gossip, an accuser, slander, judgment, criticism, filthy communication, blasphemy, wrath, malice, anger, profanity.
* GOD THOUGHTS are VIRTUOUS not cowardly, prideful.
* GOD THOUGHTS gives PRAISE not unthankful, doubt, unbelief.
Therefore what is needed to untwist the chaos, unravel and repair the despair?
People pins (community of people) and lubricant (Holy Spirit).
Yes, a people pin, not just one but several. People pins to separate and divide, people pins to be carefully placed to untangle to renew and rewind, people pins to help, encourage, edify, lift up, speak truth, unravel the messiness and brokenness and create beauty from ashes.
People pins = community.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
All of which to say this untangling will involve much patience, perseverance, time… and lots of it.
An intentional forming of a loving, supportive, committed community is much like and symbolic of the pins and patience and lubricant required to untangle a necklace. We all need to be untangled, are vulnerable to lies, a distorted thought. Instead lets be that community that replaces the pins with people, be a soothing lubricant of the Spirit of God which empowers, convicts, discerns, heals, gets involved in the messiness of others, engage in the spiritual warfare with others, on behalf of others in taking every thought captive.
This only can be done effectively in a Christ-community.
* A community being transparent and authentic and real.
* A community seeking Jesus first at all cost.
* A community being the lubricant that represents the healing balm of Jesus’ hands and feet.
* A community where unconditional love and acceptance is the focus.
* A community where seeking the good of others is foremost.
* A community where faith is action.
* A community that fervently prays and does what it takes to unravel the twisted mind – emotions from a thought taken captive.
* A community of compassion speaking the truth in love.
* A community of coming alongside simply as a friend for a friend to unravel the knot(s) of the enemy’s weave.
We must do this for one another because none of us are immune. And none not prone to despair.
But, we do have the tools to fight from victory. Christ is our HOPE!
As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. (Philippians 1:20-22)