“It takes 20 positive comments to overcome one negative comment.” I read this statement recently in a marriage counseling book and have pondered it since. Whether it is 20 to 1 or some other ratio, it seems that somehow we can give more credibility to negative input in our lives than we do to the positive. Hurtful things even from the distant past can haunt us still and shape our sense of self worth in an unhelpful way.
But forget about the past, there are plenty of negatives that rail against us in the present. There are the whispers from the accuser of the brethren as well as his outright attacks. There is the flesh and our carnal nature that we have to contend with. There are misunderstandings that leave us wounded. There can be a sense of belittlement to the believer that comes from the ungodly world around us. And we contend with the fog that continually works to make the things of God unreal to us.
Against this backdrop, I read Psalm 36 last Sunday morning and was captivated by the thought that it was called, “A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord.”
The servant of the Lord—what a title! A servant is one without an agenda of his own and who knows the character and will of his Master. The expressions later in the Psalm are beautifully positive descriptions of the nature and character of the God we serve. I believe that meditating on them can work to drive out the negatives of life and reduce the pressures of spiritual contention that are part of the human experience.
In this Psalm he exclaims to God about “Your mercy,” “Your faithfulness,” “Your righteousness,” “Your judgments,” “Your lovingkindness,” and “Your light”! The Psalmist exults in “how precious is Your lovingkindness” that has people hiding in the “shadow of Your wings.” I’m not sure what “hiding in the shadow of His wings” means, but it sounds pretty good to me. It also speaks of “the river of Your pleasures” and “the fountain of life.”
The message that I get from all this is that our God is continually speaking positives to us. There is nothing negative from Him toward those who love Him and seek to serve Him. It does say that He chastens those He loves, but that is only to wean us from the trivial and bring us closer to Himself. And even the fiery trials are working “an eternal weight of glory” for us!
May this Sabbath be a day of positives for us, when we allow the love of God and the consciousness of Himself to dry our tears and heal our hurts and restore our souls.