Taking Thoughts Captive

by Jennifer Whitaker
in Blog

What do you do when the world seems against you?  How can you overcome anxiety, depression, fear, anger, guilt?

Recently I went through a dark time.  I felt oppressed and attacked spiritually.  I felt my best wasn’t good enough.  I felt defeated, and low, and embarrassed of how the efforts I put forward for ministry didn’t look how I thought they should look.  Things were grim.  I was beginning to spiral further into myself and my shortcomings, feeling more and more like a failure.  Being the DIY, self-sufficient all-American girl I am, I sought the advice of the internet.  I googled, “how to overcome depression” and was greeted with webpage after webpage of secular psychologists giving various tips on how to get yourself out of a funk.  There was one common thread among them: replace your negative thoughts with positive affirmations.  Tell yourself (in the words of Stuart Smalley) “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

I had been studying 2 Corinthians 10 that week. Verses 4-5 say, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  I’d had the weapons to fight off these mental and emotional attacks all along!  Not only that, but this powerful weapon, the very Word of God himself, has divine power to destroy strongholds.  My role in this was to take my every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 

Practically, how do I take thoughts captive and make them obey Christ?  I began by listing out all the lies I had been believing and listening to.  I looked up scriptures that contradicted those lies, and I began to meditate on those truths.  I found a stack of business-sized cards I’d received as a gift (thanks, Mutar!) that had beautiful and powerful promises of God printed on them, with my own name inserted into the verses.  I began to recognize the lies for what they were, and in each moment and each instance, replace those lies with the Truth of God’s word.

The change was immediate and amazing.  God’s word really does transform our minds!  When we store up His word in our hearts, we can overcome the temptation to sin (Psalm 119:11).  We don’t need to fear (2 Timothy 1:7, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 23:4, Romans 8:38-39, Isaiah 41:10).  We have value and are infinitely loved (Genesis 1:27, Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:1, Luke 12:6-7).  We are made right with God through Christ, are adopted as beloved sons and daughters, and cannot be snatched from His hand (Romans 10:9-10, Romans 8:14-17, John 5:24, John 10:28-30). This barely scratches the surface of the depths of wisdom and promises of the Bible!  The more time you spend getting to know God in his word, the more you love Him, the more gratitude you have for the blessings in your life, the more your mind is renewed to be like Christ.

So, when seasons arise that overwhelm you, when you find yourself in a dark place wondering what on earth to do, seek wisdom in the pages of your Bible.  Take wayward thoughts captive and make them obey Christ by replacing lies with the truth.  God’s word is sufficient for all of life’s trials. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)