This prevalence of the desire to avoid quiet thinking has recently been identified by University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and his colleagues. The results of studies done by these researchers were published in the most recent issue of Science magazine. They did multiple studies of groups of people who were asked to sit alone in a room with no distractions for anywhere from six to fifteen minutes. The subjects consistently reported that they did not like the experience at all. This was true regardless of the age, status or race of the subjects. There was one astounding result of the study. The subjects were offered the option of distracting themselves by administering an unpleasant electric shock to themselves. 67% of the men and 25% of the women chose to do so rather than sit alone with their thoughts.
Douglas Groothius, philosophy professor, has written, “diversion serves to distract humans from a plight too terrible to encounter directly—namely, our mortality, finitude and failures.” There is good news for a believer in Jesus. The Lord Jesus came to this world specifically to give us hope as we face our own mortality, limits and shortcomings. He has come to give us grace. Through him we have forgiveness and the Father’s unlimited love and acceptance. We have hope so that death, while still dark enemy, is not the victor. God can and does fill that “gaping hole” that Peter Kreeft described. Therefore quiet contemplation no longer leads to a sense of disquiet and unease. Rather it leads us the fact that in Christ we have rest for our souls. We have answers for our mortality, finitude and failures. We should cherish undistracted time to think, for our thoughts of those things that cause so much consternation in others should lead us to the peace and grace of our Lord. Such quiet thinking can and will result in joy and gratitude as we rest in what he has done for us. Perhaps we would all be more joyful and would experience more delight in God’s presence if we slowed down, turned the devices off, and spent some time thinking about the grace of our God and what it means for us.