The facts don’t change, but how we filter them can make all the difference. In week 3 of the Mastermind series, we look at how to reframe your situation, your story, and your relationships to thank God for what didn’t happen, pre-frame future experiences, and look for God’s goodness in every moment of your life. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it.
Something To Talk About:
Change your thinking, change your life. Our thoughts are a powerful force for shaping who we are and who we can become. Learn how you can use filters to re-frame how you think. Consider the need to:
- Thank God for what didn’t happen: October 10, 2018 remains a vivid memory for the people who live in the Panhandle. Hurricane level 4 winds tore up everything in its path. Many people went to their designated spot and took a moment to pray as the tree limbs began to sway outside. Yes, there was property destruction and many people are struggling to put their lives together. But amidst all the destruction, we should pause and thank God for what didn’t happen. I recognize I could have been in the hospital instead of working side by side with so many other believers working to put our neighborhoods back together again. We can mentally scroll through many such incidents or circumstances and thank God for what didn’t happen that day. The suspicious test results that worried the doctor but turned out to be nothing at all. The countless times we‘ve driven long distances and God kept us safe. What God prevents in our lives is just as full of grace and gifts as what He allows.
- Practice pre-framing: Often we look at God through the lens of life and our circumstances. How different would things be if we determined to look at our life and circumstances through the lens of God? What if we could pre-frame our reaction to what is happening around us. In other words, instead of letting our circumstances dictate our view of God, why don’t we let God dictate our view of our circumstances? We are living in extraordinary times where there is so much pain and darkness in the world. Will we allow that darkness to skew our view of God or will we allow the light and hope that God embodies pre-frame our responses? Are we doomed to be crushed when things go wrong or do we still believe that God is all powerful and that He is at work in every situation even when we can’t see it clearly? Is our faith determined by what we see around us or by our view of who God is? If we pre-frame our reactions, we will look at things in a completely different way.
- Look for God’s goodness: The Bible defines God’s goodness in two ways. One has to do with His character; the other focuses on His actions. Ps. 119:68 captures both when it says of God: “You are good and do only good . . . “ The first half of that verse focuses on that fact that God is by nature good. He is good in and of Himself. For us, goodness is an added quality. But it comes naturally for Him. That’s exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “…Only God is truly good.” (Mark 10:18) We call all kinds of things good but, God alone is goodness itself. Then there is goodness in action: the Bible is replete with descriptions that point to His kindness, His mercy, His steadfast love, His generosity. Have you ever thought of God as generous toward you? Do you see His goodness in your life? We see glimpses of God’s goodness in places we never noticed before; We see his faithfulness, we see His overwhelming grace woven throughout our lives, and we see our endurance and strength multiply as the Spirit empowers us, moves us, changes us, and strengthens us to run the race God has called us to run. Can you believe that when He looks at you with all your baggage, all your junk, all your hang-ups, God is for you. He has your back. And He expresses His love in an expansive, over-whelming, God-sized goodness and generosity toward you.
- What we believe determines how we behave. Agree or disagree and why?
- What are your default filters or “frames” that change the way you see life experiences?
- Read Philippians 1:12-14. Describe a situation you’re facing that you’d like to reframe your perspective about.
- What can you thank God for about your situation? How can you grow from it? How will you look for God’s goodness in it?
- When was the last time you sat down to literally count your blessings?
- Have you ever looked back and been thankful that God didn’t give you what you wanted? Or thank God for what didn’t happen?
- What are some practical ways you can re-frame the circumstances in your life?
- Do you see glimpses of God’s goodness in places we never noticed before? Examples?
- Do you see his overwhelming grace woven through every detail, heartache, change of direction, and seemingly worthless pain, in your life? Why or why not?
- What part of this message resonated with you?
- What can we do this week to put this message into practice?
Take one thing home with you
Sometimes things won’t make sense. No matter how much we read, pray and discuss with others, there still seems to be a randomness; an arbitrariness associated with certain experiences that make you wonder what good can become of them. Rather than look at them in isolation we need to reframe them. Rather than removing the incident from the remainder of your life, place it in a more balanced perspective. Frame your present circumstances in the larger context of your whole life. We need to change our perspective to see the redemptive possibilities? When we place an experience in the larger framework of our whole life, a picture can begin to take shape and we can begin to see things more clearly. Sometimes we need to step back a little in order to gain a more informed understanding. Paul once wrote “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6b). So when facing difficult circumstances, ask yourself the question, “how does this problem fit into the larger framework of my life? Is this setback really a setback after all? Or, is it possible that what I’m going through could actually prove to be part of a much larger framework? That is, can God use even ‘this’ to mold, shape and prepare me for those things He has in mind for me to do in the future?”