Across the Pastor’s Desk: Find hope in positive thoughts

Published 8:00 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Kenneth Jensen

Recently, my wife and I patronized a local business. As I was paying our bill, she left for another commitment. The person behind the counter commented, “You two look like the happiest people I know.” Surprised by the comment from a stranger, I replied, “It’s because we no longer watch the pundits on cable news.”

Kenneth Jensen

Reported news is mostly bad news: violence, natural disasters, accidents, etc.  We are drawn to it be we eyewitnesses to a tragedy or consumers of radio, television, Facebook or newspapers.  

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 Dwelling upon bad news can leave us feeling insecure, anxious, depressed or angry. We risk becoming “negative thinkers” capable of spiraling downward to believing conspiracies are true.      

Astronaut Susan Helms spent nearly six months on the International Space Station. Upon her return, she was asked what she missed most about life in space. She replied, “…the peacefulness.”  

With no television, cell phones, e-mails demanding a reply, nor stress related to information overload, she could sleep like a baby.

 Mark begins his Gospel, “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” [chapter 1 verse 1 (NIV)]. “Gospel” translated means “good news.” 

There is an alternative to succumbing to “bad news”: (1) surround yourself with positive thinking people, and (2) search for and consume “good news.”  

It is truly amazing how daily reflecting upon the gospel (“good news”) of a few Bible verses and/or a daily devotional booklet can change one’s attitude and transform negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

I revel in the New Year. It is a season of redemption. We have permission to begin again … make resolutions to change. There is hope.  In the words of Mark, it begins with “the gospel about Jesus Christ.” 

Kenneth Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.