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A negative mental habit that is often a struggle for me is ruminating. My thoughts  often dwell too long on what has happened. In other words, I play events over and over in my mind and relive the emotions and regret over and over again.

Before this became a struggle, it was something that defeated me. It continually wore me down and lived at the root of many depressive episodes and sleepless nights.

Then God’s word got a hold of me. Specifically, two portions of scripture.

“I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

As I have revisited these verses over the years, I gradually moved from being defeated by ruminating and dwelling to struggling toward victory. These verses regularly pull me out of a downward spiral that threatens like a storm on the horizon whenever life comes at me in full force.

Together, these verses provide a formula of sorts for helping me to “strain to reach” and to find the “pathway through the wilderness” instead of returning to defeating and depression.

Forget: Don’t let failures and disappointments weigh you down. Don’t be held back by past success, either, by thinking the best is behind you.

Look Forward: Look for what God has planned. Seek the newness he has in store. Be thankful for what he has done, then focus on what lies ahead.

Receive: Keep making progress as you aim for the perfection of Heaven. Follow the way that seems impossible, but that God makes clear with every step you take toward him.

God ministers to me in new and increasing ways through these verses. He never fails to lead me in the path of his will through them. Now, as I enter the mid-life, empty-nest season, he once again is encouraging me through them, and I am grateful.