The Power of Positive Thinking and Self-Help
There are two key words in that question: power and self. Power is something that we think we can find for ourselves and that if we have the power, we can control things. That's a problem. We're not God. We're not intended to control things. And so the power of positive thinking implies that if I feel discouraged, I hold the power to change my circumstances in a way that will make me feel encouraged again.
But God's word says that God's power is made perfect through weakness. So I'm intended to come in my weakness in search of God's power, not in search of my own power. It's going to be problematic anytime I'm reaching for power that I control. The self-help movement has not helped us with that. The self-help movement says, You can find it, you can buy it, you can do it yourself.
And we have do-it-yourself shows that show us how to flip a house or how to lose weight or how to start a business. And so we think that all we need to do is go to the Internet and do a little research and that it's going to be very easy to get started on whatever project we need.
But the bigger project is our sanctification. That's the work that God is doing in our hearts. And in times of discouragement, when we need help the most, God is at work sanctifying, shaping, calling, saving.
I'm intended to come in my weakness in search of God's power, not in search of my own power.
All of those things are things that he is doing in discouragement for our good and for his glory. And if we are trying to manhandle and maneuver our ways around what God is doing so that we don't have to bend to his will, we're not going to be able to escape; we are going to maybe miss some of the blessing that God intends to provide and the ways that he wants to comfort us in those hard times.
And so I think that with self-help, the best thing that we can do is say, I am not the best person to help myself. I know that I need help. I need outside help that only the Lord and only the Spirit of God can provide.
Lindsey Carlson is the author of A Better Encouragement: Trading Self-Help for True Hope.
Sanctification demonstrates that right actions work their way out from the inside and not the other way around.
The truth is, most of us don’t like the look of discouragement. It feels embarrassing. But when we avoid areas of our own insufficiency, we also avoid finding the help we so desperately need.
We seek healing as if we have the power (and right) to obtain it, whereas it is our very weakness and lack of valid claim to such a cure which are defining characteristics of our illness.
Lindsey Carlson talks about the discouragement we all face and where to turn for true encouragement that won’t let us down.