Friday, February 17, 2012

It's How You Frame It


I joined a bible study last week.  
I'm studying the book of James with Beth Moore with a wonderful group of women.  
The first day of this week's homework was an ah-ha moment for me and I felt I discovered a key to freedom as I studied God's Word.

Here's the passage...

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

I've seen these verses before and I've also experienced more than a few trials.  But I never could understand how trials and joy could go together.  Though what I never realized is that James isn't telling us to feel joy, but merely to think on our situation differently.  Joy is an emotion that really isn't usually felt during the pain of a trial.  You can't make yourself feel something that you don't, but you can consider things in a different light.

  You can put them in a different frame.

When meditating on this scripture passage it helps to know that James had seen trials that few of us today have seen.  He writes this after Stephen, a dear brother in Christ, was stoned to death because of his unwavering faith in Jesus.  I wouldn't think for a second that he or any of the others he was writing to felt joy at the persecution of Stephen and others at the time.  But I'm guessing he was focusing on the end and what going through that and other trials would do in him.  Give him "heroic endurance" (one of the ways Beth Moore translated perseverance) in order that he may be mature, complete and lacking nothing.  This doesn't mean achieving perfection (phew!) because that's just not possible but it does mean that we have what it takes to give God glory and bear fruit in our lives even in the midst of heartache and hardship.

I've seen an example of this in my own life.  My mom was diagnosed with debilitating MS at age 27.  Married with 2 young girls and one on the way, her illness was a game changer in every sense, for her and for our family.  But for the 23 years she lived with this and her body quickly failed her, she was always full of faith and clung to Jesus. It was evident in her uplifted countenance and joyful demeanor despite her very obvious illness.  This annoyed me because her faith was foreign to me, and confusing, and I couldn't understand why she wasn't mad at God. But her joy, grace, and strength were undeniable, and years later when I would grab ahold of that same faith in that One Who loves me, I understood how she fought her battle with grace and unshakable faith and realized that attitude was so much better than the bitterness she could have easily chosen.  I don't have the opportunity now to ask my mom if she considered her options when looking at her situation and her abrupt change of living.  Did she right away frame her illness with faith and trust in God and consider it joy from the start or did she try out the frame of bitterness first and realize that wasn't working?  

We do have options for how we frame the trials in our lives.
There was a wonderful exercise at the end of the day's homework to help us do just that.

Here it is...

1.  Think of the biggest thing you're going through right now.

2.  Write down 3 different things you could do with your situation.  Consider making one of those 3 things obeying James 1:2.

3.  What would be the 5-year ramifications for each of those courses of action?
  Write them down.

After doing this exercise I realized that of course the James 1:2 option was hands down the best and put me in a much better place even 5 years from now...even if I still have my trial then. Just like my mom had hers for 23 years but all the while gave God glory and her life bore good fruit, and still does as the memory of her joy and "heroic endurance" still gives Him glory today.  It wasn't until going through this exercise that I really got it.  The light bulb went on and I felt the freedom that came in realizing that I wasn't stuck and that I had a choice in how I could consider my "stuff".

It's all in how I frame it.
And I choose this...

Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday? 
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.


SparkN4Him said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

There are earthly trials of many kinds, shapes, sizes, and circumstances. Thank you for sharing your Aha. My picture frame just got a whole lot lighter. Love you.

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