Those who keep saying that the voice of the people is like the voice of Almighty God should not be listened to, since the unruliness of the crowd is always very close to madness. – Alcuin of York
Madness. Having looked the word up in a variety of modern lexicons, I was intrigued by the resulting interpretive meanings that I read. Most described madness as a state of severe mental illness. But the Merriam-Webster’s characterization really caught my attention as it also defined madness as behavior or thinking that is very foolish, unreasonable or dangerous.
I read that description of madness and erupted out loud in laughter, which caused some of the lunchtime crowd at Rusty Bellies (where I was busy reviewing research for this article) to stare at me momentarily. “Madness”, I said, smiling back at them. They quickly looked away.
Why did I laugh out loud? Because at times it seems to me that we all live in a society which is being overrun by people whose thinking is very foolish, quite unreasonable and in some cases very dangerous. Our modern culture appears to be suffering a very bad season of madness!
Catch a news report on any given day and you will likely hear accounts of deranged bombers and crazed gunmen randomly killing the innocent, rioters and looters destroying their own communities as a form of “protest”, men and women fighting over bathroom rights, and the list just goes on and on. All of this “madness” can be worrisome indeed. Toss in our concerns over the latest global “hotspots”, add a pinch of general human cruelty, negativity, and, well it’s enough to drive you crazy. At the very least, it can be difficult to remain a positive person in a world gone mad. So what can we do to endure as beacons of optimistic light and real hope in a very pessimistic atmosphere? Let’s talk.
To think that the specter you see before you is an illusion does not rob it of its terrors: it simply adds the further terror of madness itself — and then on top of that the horrible surmise that those of us whom the rest call mad have, all along, been the only people who see the world as it really is.” – C.S. Lewis
Did you know that anxiety disorders have become one of the most common form of mental illness in the United States? Some estimates put the number of affected people over the age of 18 at more than 45 million. One study claims that 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. is now considered depressed.
Granted, anxiety and depression can have many points of origin, including genetic predispositions, brain disorders and trauma. But, there is no denying that consistent pessimism and harmful thought patterns are major contributing factors to both. I recently read that we experience anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts each day! For those possessed with a negative outlook, it’s a mental journey on the dark side.
Staying calm, positive, and happy at all times may be an admirable goal, but it’s also unrealistic. Furthermore, it is impossible to have nothing but “happy thoughts”. However, learning to change negative thought patterns, can lower anxiety levels and help to ease some forms of depression. Remember, our thinking not only influences the way that we feel, it also plays a major role in shaping who we are as a person.
We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness is at an all-time high. We must course-correct.” – Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey
The Bible’s Older Testament Book of Proverbs makes an interesting observation,
7 “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7)
According to the sage wisdom of Scripture, we are literally the sum of all that we think. Why? Because what we think is also what we believe and what we truly believe is what we ultimately say and do. And folks, you ARE what you say and do.
So let me ask you a question, what are your mental deliberations like as you duke it out with that still small voice inside? What thoughts fill your mind every day?
- The worries of daily life?
- The emotional pain you are suffering at present?
- Hurt feelings from your past that still haunt you?
- Physical aches, pains or ailments that you suffer?
- Your fears and uncertainties over economic circumstances?
If these are the thought patterns that predominantly populate your daily mental landscape, you suffer from, thinking stenchinitis! (Aka: Stinking Thinking)
As a Bible believing Christian, I have learned that it is unwise to dwell on all the negatives in the world – especially when I can do little to change most of them anyway. Instead, I regularly work to realign my thought patterns by focusing my attention on the things that are above earthbound circumstances! According to the ancient Biblical texts, everything we need comes to us from the Creator of all things (GOD) when we set our mind on what is beyond this temporary existence. The Liberator Jesus put it this way:
32-33 “People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over so many things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:32-33 MSG)
If I am reading the words of Jesus correctly, those who know how God “works” can change negative thought patterns by immersing themselves in the reality, initiatives and provisions of the Creator of all things (God). Anxiety is often a tell-tale symptom of a lack of faith or at least a lack of focus on the things that truly matter – i.e., things beyond this temporary existence on spaceship earth.
Once you become aware that the main business that you are here on this earth for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.” – J.I. Packer
In Biblical times there was a city known as Colossae. Located 120 miles east of Ephesus in ancient Phrygia, Colossae was part of the Roman territory known as Asia Minor. It was also the location of a vibrant Christian community to which the Newer Testament writer Paul inscribed a letter. He told the followers of Jesus living there to…
1-4 “…Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of this earth. For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead anyway, and your true life is now hidden in the anointed one. Someday, Jesus, the secret center of our lives, will show himself openly again, and you will all share in that magnificent final outcome.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
Paul’s instruction were pretty clear; do not be attached to the “things” of this earth. He reasoned that as followers of the Liberator Jesus, we are all “dead” to this world because our life now belongs to another world. Right now, it is an unseen realm, but one day what is now invisible will be seen openly when the Liberator makes His return trip to the earth. Paul went on to tell them,
8 “…dear brothers and sisters, one final thing; fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you”. (Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)
Truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, good reports, virtue and praise are not the thoughts upon which modern society commonly focuses. The news media, business world, governments and sometimes even our educational institutions do not bring about this type of thought pattern. Therefore, to remain positive amidst the madness, we must sidestep this world’s agenda and see life from a heavenly perspective. Refocusing our thinking helps to change negative thought patterns so that we can enjoy an optimistic point of view even as we pass through this “illusion” known as time here on spaceship earth.
As we rehabilitate our thought patterns and focus more attention on what the Creator has said instead of what this present world order is saying and doing, “…everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:33 MSG) With the Divine Spirit of the Almighty actively helping us each day, we can overcome the blues; deal with bad attitudes, solve unresolved problems, settle disputes, and calm our anxiety and fear. In other words, we can escape the madness. Surrounded by madness? Yes my friends, many in this world have gone crazy, but yours truly has simply decided not to go there with them. How about you?
13 “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.” (Romans 15:13 PHILLIPS)
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656