I have a friend who told me he was going through a lot of stress lately. He really didn’t want to talk about it. I asked him to close his eyes, and picture all that stress as a heavy burden on his shoulders. Then I asked him to picture Almighty God lifting that heavy weight from him and placing it on His own broad strong shoulders. When he opened his eyes it was clear some of that tension was gone.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7, NASB)
No, I am not a psychologist. But I do understand how visualizing God’s truth can be quite helpful. Visualizing the truths of scripture is not a psychological trick. Why? Psalm 46:1 states “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (NASB) By helping my friend to visualize casting his anxiety upon God, he was better able to actually do it, and experience God’s peace.
How about God’s love, can an abstract idea like the love of God be visualized? Absolutely. When you’re hurting, visualizing God’s loving arms holding you and comforting you can bring you much peace.
“… but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5, NASB)
“For God so loved the world” (John 3:16, NASB)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (2 Cor. 1:3-5, NASB)
Visualizing the truths of scripture can also help when we’re struggling with unwholesome thoughts.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8, NASB)
If we are to dwell on only good things, what do we do with the thoughts that don’t line up with that? Throw it away! It’s Trash! Picture the offending thought as a document. In other words, in your mind put that thought onto a piece of paper. Now drop the paper into an incinerator. In a split second, it is totally destroyed. Gone. If it comes back do it again.
Visualizing scenes in scripture may also help in our understanding of the bible. Picture the scene. The ship is being tossed around by the wind and the storm. Hardened sailors are terrified. As they throw cargo overboard in an attempt to save the ship, they each cry out to their own god for help. They cast lots to see whose sin brought about this horrible storm. The lot falls to Jonah.
Jonah freely confesses he is a prophet, and the storm was because he was running from God. And if they throw him overboard the storm will stop. They cried out to Jonah’s God for mercy, and threw him into the sea. They watched as the sea became calm like glass. And they likely saw the giant fish swim up and swallow the man of God, and dive into the depths of the sea.
Visualizing the events of Jonah and the ship helps us to understand not just the story, but the emotions that were likely going through the minds of the sailors. It helps bring the stories of the bible to life. They really happened. And no sci-fi film crew could ever truly do it justice.
As you read through scripture, picture the scene. Imagine the emotions of Naaman when he was cured of leprosy, or the woman at the well, or Mary as she was visited by Gabriel. Let God’s holy word come alive in your mind. Visualize the promises of God, of which you are a partaker.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8, NASB)