(I wrote this post to renew my mind because honestly, it has been hard. But I’m feeling more hopeful.)
“Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2a
“‘Do not conform’ is difficult advice in a generation when crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo...
Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world….”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.(*)
Although choosing joy doesn’t seem to relate to fighting racism, they both require us to renew our minds and to look past the surface to deeper truths.
Sara Frankl showed us how to fight for joy even if you suffer from chronic debilitating pain and are home bound.
As I listened to Sara’s story unfold in her book Choose Joy, I realized she renewed her mind with biblical truth.
She didn’t conform to a popular narrative, which says my life needs to be busy and pain-free for it to be worth living.
Photo used with permission of Flickr User: Sandy Brown Jensen
She challenged the view that what is seen (appearance as her weight ballooned), work (she was forced to be on disability), and possessions are everything.
Although many of us don’t suffer like Sara, we still fight to not base our identity on outward markers (relationships, career etc.) instead of in our internal identity as God’s beloved.
Sara reminded us: God says what is unseen is what is eternal.
When her life was the most painful, Sara chose joy when she turned to God in her pain instead of away from Him.
Trusting God and choosing joy means turning to God in our pain and trusting He will hold us.
I appreciated she said “pain is pain,” and she didn’t compare whose pain was greater.
It’s easy to ignore or downplay my pain because Sara’s pain seems so much greater than mine.
But “pain is pain,” and God doesn’t rank our pain. In his love and grace, God can and does redeem our pain if we let him.
Sara showed us the way.
Although Sara identified more with physical pain, she said she empathized more with emotional pain.
Sara didn’t believe God caused her illness but He allowed it and she trusted His good purposes even if she didn’t understand why.
Sara defined joy as:
“the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it… not despite what’s happening in my life but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched.”
Trusting God doesn’t mean an absence of pain but turning to God in our pain and trusting He will hold us.
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I’m thankful in her book, Sara shared an example of when her trust had “conditions,” and that she grew into her “unwavering trust” in God. It was a process.
Dear Father God,
Thank you for Martin Luther King, Jr’s example of nonconformity as he fought hate with love.
Thank you for for giving Sara Frankl “an internal lightness that can’t be touched.”
We praise you for how Sara’s nonconformity inspired and continues to inspire many to choose joy.
We praise you for how Jesus chose joy despite the cross.
We praise you that we can be honest, like Sara was when losses hurt and the pain feels suffocating.
We praise you for how you gave Sara a new intimacy with you so before she died, she called her illness a “gift.”
Thank you for how Sara showed us how momentary afflictions are producing for us an eternal weight of glory.
Thank you for your promise to renew our spirits as we renew our minds with your promises.
Thank you for how Sara modeled how even when our bodies waste away, our spirits are being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
We ask for the grace to have an “unwavering trust” in you.
Please give us the grace to persevere in the process.
We ask for the grace to choose gratitude like Sara even as we grieve losses. Please give us the eyes to see you and your many blessings to us.
We thank you for how Sara showed us how to live each moment in light of eternity.
We thank you for how Sara believed you would heal her brokenness one day.
We thank you for how you love us in our brokenness, whether physical and/or emotional.
We thank you for how you’re healing us and for how we will experience complete healing one day.
In the name of Jesus, amen.
(*) Read the rest of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words here.
What helps you to keep an eternal perspective in the midst of daily pain or troubles? Memorizing a verse or a short prayer?
For me, it is often a moment by moment, turning my gaze back to God.
Sara had friends on her journey. Who can you invite to be part of your journey?
This is the 3rd post in our Joy Series.
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