Over the years, I have often reminded people of a truth that we so often forget when we find ourselves in difficult places. Our lives are nearly always filled with many more good things than bad things, but we tend to focus all of our attention on what is bad. Before long, our thoughts, our talk, our focus, our energy becomes all about the one bad thing. Before long, the one bad thing becomes this enormous black hole absorbing all the good things around it. We get tired from dealing with the problem and before long, we lose the energy to not focus on it and all we see is an inescapable problem. Like light in a black hole in space, we cannot reach the escape velocity of the gravity of our own problem.

This principle is true in our churches, our marriages, and in most of our relationships. We sit idly by with glued focus on the one problem and all the good stuff gets absorbed in the evil one's onslaught of negativity about the one bad thing.

But what can we do?

Deep down we know the truth, or at least most of it, but I'll share a few reminders of some biblical strategies to prevent us making a black hole out of our problems.

First, let's focus our minds on something else, something positive, something holy other than the problem. We should focus on heavenly things and not earthly ones (Colossians 3:1-4). This is not simply the power of positive thinking, nor is it a ploy to help us escape reality. Instead, it is a reminder that our future, and especially our ultimate future, has been gloriously assured and it is far better than what we have here and now (Romans 8:18).

Second, remember that God will never leave us or forsake in our problems (Hebrews 13:5). Our job is to look for the Lord in our storms and ask him to reveal himself to us. Even the apostle Peter began to sink when he focused on the storm and not the one who could still the storm. But he cried out to the Lord to save him. The key to all of the Bible's greatest leaders is that they kept their focus on God and not the enemy.

Third, prayer must always be accompanied with praise and thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2). Praise is declaring who God is and what he has proved himself to be in the past. Praise reminds us that God acts and moves and is involved in our lives. Thanksgiving is our response to God for what he has done in our story — not just our immediate story, but in the flow of our story from his story in the world. These two dimensions of prayer help us keep from having just a narrow, problem-based prayer focus. Praise and thanksgiving open us up to the power-based prayer focus of Scripture. And if you have a problem knowing how to do this, open the collection of Psalms in your Bible and begin to see how their prayer about problems nearly always bring us to praise of God.

Fourth, find a friend or two to partner with you in prayer. Give that friend some specific things to ask God for in your behalf (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Knowing we are not alone in our struggles, but have a friend to encourage and strengthen us, gives us so much great emotional energy to fight the battles we face.

Finally, let's talk back to our negative self-talk. So many of us listen to the negative voice in our head as if we have to. We don't have to do it! God has given us his word to be a fantastic resource for us to speak back against the lies and half-truths Satan is trying to whisper in our ears. The apostle Paul calls this taking every thought captive and making it subject to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). So often, he doesn't have to do much work because we beat ourselves up to the point of defeat. Speak back God's truth to yourself about who you are, how God loves you, what God's purposes are for you, and your future home with him.

Take charge of what you do and think.
Please, don't let the problems in your life become the black hole that pulls all the other good things out of your life. Take charge of what you do and think. Hold on to what you have in Jesus and remember God's powerful promise for us:

What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32)