A cheerful heart is good medicine

Lessons learned after 25 years of living with chronic stress

Living with chronic illness for 25 years has taught me some great lessons, which are helpful to all as we deal with life’s stresses, problems, and concerns.

One is controlling and eliminating negative thoughts and self-talk.

It is vital that we have an awareness of our thoughts because they have a direct impact on our relationships, coping abilities, and health – physical, emotional, and mental.

Thinking negatively weakens and depresses us, lowers our body’s immune system, as well as increases pain and stress.

Research has shown that stress can cause certain symptoms or diseases. It has been linked to heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, and liver disease.

Negative thinking causes a negative reaction in our bodies and coping abilities. I can attest to the truth of this because of my sensitivity to stress due to my condition.

But don’t just take my word for it, look at Proverbs 17, verse 22 in the Bible:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

That being true, what can we do to eliminate negative and hopeless thinking?

Again, I found the answer in God’s Word and created these three steps:

1. Pray and give thanks – bring your problems to God and thank Him daily.

In Philippians 4, verses 6 and 7, we are told:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer and thankfulness transformed my life. As I thanked God for what I could still do (instead of focusing on what I could no longer do), my attitude changed.  I went from despair, to thankfulness, to hope.

2. Replace negative thoughts by focusing on good things – at times you may struggle to think good thoughts.

Read Philippians 4:8 until you can think of at least one thing that applies.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

3. Make a daily decision to think good thoughts – a friend who attends my group for women with illness recently commented that she was going to stop any “negative chit-chat” that she had in her mind. She emphatically stated, “No more negative chit-chat.”

We must make a daily decision to control our thoughts and ask the Lord to help us. As we turn to Him, we will be strengthened and gain new hope and perspective.


Pat Bryan is the Pastor of His Path Christian Centre and the

Academy of Prayer.

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