Phil. 4Yesterday, I found myself consumed with difficult things. All I could think about were problems, real problems and potential-might-not-actually happen problems. I worked these thoughts over and over again for most of the day – and then God brought Philippians 4:8 to mind:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse … Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)

Well. My train was derailed right at the words “compelling” and “gracious.” Nothing about my worrying was either compelling or gracious – in fact, it’s just the opposite. Dwelling on money, unreturned messages, conflicts among friends, and unrealistic perfectionist expectations I place on myself (add in your own favorite worry) doesn’t add up to anything in this list.

We face our own little challenges in this corner of the world, but so do you. Not one of us is untouched by the reality of a broken world. From our perspectives, life could always be better. Someone else’s yard always seems greener.

But here’s the really beautiful thing about these verses – Paul never says that we won’t find difficult things to worry about. He just says we’re not to waste our time with these kinds of thoughts. Instead, we’re to think about good things – things that are “compelling” and “gracious.”

When we do this, God (not us) will work us into “his most excellent harmonies.” We will sing a song for the ages with the Maker of the Universe.

Are you struggling with your thoughts today? Can you say that you are focusing your mind on things that are compelling and gracious? Can we pray for one another in this area?