Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jonathan Edwards and the Power of Positive Thinking

“Tis a most evil and pernicious practice in meditations on afflictions," wrote Jonathan Edwards, "to sit ruminating on the aggravations of the affliction, and reckoning up the evil, dark circumstances thereof, and dwelling long on the dark side; it doubles and trebles the affliction. If we dwelt on the light side of things in our thoughts, and extenuated them all the possibly we could, when speaking of them, we should think little of them ourselves; and the affliction would really, in a great measure, vanish away.”

Thus wrote Jonathan Edwards who was by nature a melancholy person. Edwards did not always succeed in dwelling on the lighter side of things (see my article ‘Jonathan Edwards: God’s Melancholy Saint’) and was often subject to depression and mood swings. He wrote the above words in a 1723 diary entry because he knew from painful experience that dwelling long on the dark side of things doubles and trebles the affliction. He learned to vanquish dark thoughts by extenuating the light side of things and by the time he married and had a family, he was a great source of stability to them.

I was inspired by Edwards' words to study the scripture's teaching on the power of positive thinking, leading me to publish a week's worth of Bible readings and reflection questions for the Colson Center. Click on the link below to be taken to it:

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