“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.

By Sue Matzke, mom, pastor’s wife and Stephen’s Ministry Leader

The antidote to toxic thoughts

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2 NIV)

You and I are engulfed in a tsunami of bad news and negative influences. Incredibly, we voluntarily subject ourselves to this.

Whether it’s the internet, television, radio, a smartphone — you name it, many of us live with those channels wide open because we feel we must.

But a growing number of voices are questioning the wisdom of occupying our minds with a constant barrage of bad news.

One such voice is Rolf Dobelli. In his book The Art of Thinking Clearly, he talks about the effects of news and the release of a hormone named glucocorticoid.

Glucocorticoid is a class of steroid hormones that can cause impaired digestion, lack of growth, nervousness and susceptibility to infections.

So, if you think you feel bad after watching the news, it’s because you do, from a physiological standpoint. I heard a pastor once describe this as “the CNN effect.”

The point is not to say network news is the singular cause of our problems, but Dobelli effectively and scientifically illustrates that what we think about has a direct effect on us.

When you give something access to your mind, it can become a matter of health, and it’s not going too far to say that it can become a matter of life and death.

We are all aware of the potential that stress has to trigger physical maladies.

When we begin to concentrate solely on the stressors and ponder our problems to the exclusion of other things, it can create a dangerous cycle that becomes increasingly difficult to escape.

The Bible had wisdom on this long before science got a hold of it.

In Phil. 4:8 the apostle Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Paul reminds us here that, through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we have the power to focus our thoughts, and we can focus them on Christ and what He offers, rather than what the world offers.

After all, there is nothing more true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy than the Gospel of Jesus and His sacrificial love.

In Christ, we learn that we are more sinful than we ever thought, yet we are more loved than we ever dared to dream.

His Word continually unfolds before us in an inexhaustible tapestry, inviting our mental participation.

This is not an invitation to live in denial of a broken world. It’s just the opposite.

This is a summons to draw from a wellspring of hope that enables us to face a broken world with courage.

This is a reminder to stop and ponder Him who loves us, and, in so doing, to send your bucket down into the living water of Jesus’ forgiveness and grace.

Sue Matzke is a marathon walker, pastor’s wife, Stephen’s Ministry Leader, and board member for Ministry in Mission, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Ohio, where they are members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesterland.

“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.

LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to workerwellness@lcms.org.