“[The undeserved kindness of God] trains us to reject ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”
Paul mentions soundness of mind three times in his letter to Titus, as well as alluding to our use of reason. (Tit. 1:8; 2:5; 3:2)
It seems to be the underlying theme of his letter.
He says that for someone whose mind and conscience are defiled, “nothing is clean,” right before he condemns religious hypocrisy. (Tit. 1:15,16)
We can conclude, then, that in order to have a stronger sound mind, we need to continuously nurture our own moral thoughts so as to have purer motives.
A Christian with a sound mind is one who adopts Christ’s way of thinking over his or her own. (Matt. 6:33,34; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 1:9,10; 4:4-7; 1 Pet. 4:7,8)
If we feel this world is pushing us toward our tipping point, we can meditate on the transcendence of God’s promises. (Tit. 1:2)
“[…] You may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave, as a brother who is beloved […].
~Philemon 15, 16
In his letter to Philemon, Paul entreats him to welcome back their fellow Christian, Onesimus, as a brother more so than as an escaped slave.
Paul did not use his authority in the congregation to promote personal opinions on civic matters.
Instead, he appealed to his friend’s love for God and others. (Phil. 9)
Even today, in such a hate-filled world in which we feel the effects of generations of injustice, we can trust that divine love is capable of eradicating the root causes of inequality. (1 John 4:21)
“In my first defense no one came to my side, but they all forsook me—may they not be held accountable.”
~2 Timothy 4:16
Is it normal to feel alone serving God Jehovah?
After all, our worldwide brotherhood and local congregations are supposed to be a haven of love and kindness amidst this wicked world. (Heb. 10:24,25; 1 John 5:19)
But it is unrealistic to assume others will never fail us.
David, who had an army of supporters at different times in his life, wrote:
“Reproach has broken my heart, and the wound is incurable.
“I was hoping for sympathy, but there was none,
“And for comforters, but I found none.” (Ps. 31:12; 69:20; 142:4)
Job’s closest friends also abandoned him during the hardest time of his life. (Job 19:14)
Jesus’ own friends fled from him when he faced death. (Matt. 26:56)
So we should not be too discouraged nor surprised if our support group does not react the way we need them to.
We are all Christians trying to fight the good fight, and part of that is learning to forgive each other. (Col. 3:13)
Such circumstances also teach us to rely on Jehovah’s unfailing love regardless of what happens. (2 Tim. 4:17,18)
“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
If this is one of the verses I’ve cited most from the Bible, it is because I often need to remind myself of this.
Jehovah does not expect us to never be anxious, but he does expect us to rely on him through our trials. (1 Pet. 5:7)
He promises to be there for us, either by providing strength to endure or by showing us the solution. (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:7-9; 2 Pet. 2:9)
Jehovah often answers our prayers in ways which we could never have even imagined. (Eph. 3:20)
If we look to him for comfort, his training will make us stronger and ‘firmly ground us’ in the faith. (1 Pet. 5:10)
“I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think, but to think so as to have a sound mind [..].”
The closer we draw to God’s promised kingdom, the harder it is to manage our trials. (1 Pet. 4:7)
How do we protect and improve our mental health?
One proverb advises: “A calm heart gives life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Prov. 14:30)
When we keep emotions in check, such as anger, stress and anxiety, we can train ourselves to remain calm and strong. (Ps. 37:8; Eccl. 7:9)
We can also pray to God for more patience and empathy. (Prov. 14:29)
If we have a tendency to overreact, it will do us good to nurture a forgiving spirit toward minor mistakes, both our own and those of others’. (Ps. 4:4; Col. 3:13)
If we think before we speak, we will end up with fewer regrets and feel better about ourselves. (Prov. 12:18; 15:1)
Sometimes we may need to physically remove ourselves from a situation before we can figure out how to best tackle the problem. (Prov. 17:14)
Wearing a smile on our face and focusing on what we have instead of what we lack can promote cheerfulness. (Prov. 15:15; 17:22; 2 Cor. 8:12)
It is also important to surround ourselves with people who are encouraging. (1 Cor. 15:33)
It helps to remember that God values us and we are not alone. (Is. 41:13)
Personally, I have found that diet and exercise greatly influence my emotional state.
But if we constantly feel our situation in life is hopeless, we could probably benefit from speaking to a psychology professional who understands our personal values. (Luke 5:31)
The following is a good video to share with someone who might show symptoms of depression:
From Sad to Glad
“And I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight!
How will I gaze again upon your holy temple?’”
As Jonah sank to the depths of the ocean within the belly of the fish, his main concern was not the loss of his own life, his reputation nor material things.
He was not overcome by anxiety to the point of losing his mind or his priorities.
Jonah was deeply grieved because he would no longer be able to gaze upon Jehovah’s temple, the center for true worship.
When we are under great emotional stress, do we value our spiritual privileges above all else? (Ps. 84:10)
We may wonder if our presence before God makes any difference in the vast sea of humanity, but Jonah’s story demonstrates God cares about every one of us at the individual level. (Jon. 4:11)
No one can take any other person’s place before God to render another’s worship. (Matt. 22:37)
In that sense, we are each valuable and irreplaceable. (Jon. 2:9)
“Also, what do you have against me, […]
Are you repaying me for something?
If you are repaying me,
I will swiftly, speedily bring your repayment on your heads.”
It would be a mistake to try to judge God by our own imperfect standards when he is the ultimate judge of what is and is not righteous. (Is. 55:9)
Even when we do not understand why God lets us tolerate a painful situation, the wise course is to demonstrate patience and faith that God still does care for us and will eventually make all right. (1 Pet. 5:7; Rev. 21:5)
It would be shortsighted of us to draw away from God to follow a selfish course of sin, perhaps without ever repenting and eventually incurring his wrath.
On the other hand, if we remember he is not responsible for our suffering, we can rely on his strength to help us endure. (Job 34:10; Ps. 55:22)
“When he spoke to me, spirit came into me and made me stand up on my feet […]”
Sometimes we may feel like we can no longer go on dealing with life’s problems.
We may want to do good and move forward and onward, but we just cannot find any fight left in us.
If we rely on Jehovah God, he will give us the strength to boldly carry on. (Ps. 138:3)
He will give us the peace of mind needed to continue serving him. (Ps. 29:11; Dan. 10:19)
If we continue to ‘walk in Jehovah’s name,’ he will bless us with his superior spirit, allowing us to successfully stand up to our trials. (Zec. 10:12)
“Every man wishing me peace was watching for my downfall. […]
But Jehovah was with me like a fearsome warrior […].”
Perhaps we have all experienced the sadness of finding out a close friend of ours is a false friend with selfish motivations.
Or perhaps someone has ruined our reputation and we watch alone as most of our acquaintances draw away from us, waiting for our fall.
In the prophet’s case, his emotional anguish was so great, he regretted ever having been born at all. (Jer. 20:14-18)
Ideally, we are surrounded by a loving brotherhood, but as the proverb says, “there are companions ready to crush one another.” (Prov. 18:24)
Jehovah God, on the other hand, ‘sees the innermost thoughts and the heart.’ (Jer. 20:12)
He sincerely wants us to draw close to him. (Ja. 4:8)
We can rely on him, confident that he will bring our case to justice and persecutors will be put to shame.
“Jehovah will prove to be your source of confidence.”
Some of us may suffer from low self-esteem, shyness, or anxiety.
When we look to ourselves for inner strength, we may just feel void and unwilling.
But if we rely on God for strength, he will be there for us (Ps. 121:3).
A strong faith in God can make up for feelings of ineptness or inferiority.
When we put our confidence in God and let him guide us, we can conquer doubt, personal shortcomings, and any other threat to our spirituality (Mark 9:23; 10:27; Phil. 4:13).
“If I say: ‘Surely darkness will conceal me!’ Then the night around me would become light.”
When we feel overwhelmed, we can rely on God’s strength to pull us through difficulties.
“On the day I called, you answered me; You made me bold and strong,” (Ps. 138:3).
Key spiritual activities that should never be cast aside include heartfelt prayer, Bible reading and public praising of God.
We should also set aside some time to kindly demonstrate personal interest toward others (Heb. 10:22-25,35,36).
As long as we have the cardinal points of spirituality guiding our day to day lives, we will not be overcome by darkness.
Jehovah can even transform that darkness into our brightest moment.