A recent CTV newscast during which the hosts profiled a teacher who was seeking to help her students deal with COVID-19 really inspired me. The teacher began by describing her desire to share a song she had composed that was intended to express what so many of us are feeling. She took her ukulele and strummed a few melodious chords. After taking a deep breath, she screamed as loud as she could in utter frustration.
It was a startling yet powerful expression of raw emotion. I loved it! It was obviously an attempt at humour to simply lighten the mood, but it also became a cathartic gift, giving permission for all of us to release an internal scream. I must admit I have released a few internal screams. Perhaps you have too.
One of the things I have been learning over these past few weeks is the art of framing.
While serving as a pastor at a local church, I met a woman in my congregation who is an amazing artist. She told me that she spent almost as much time choosing the right frame for her paintings as she did actually painting.
When I asked her why, she replied, “The frame has the ability to either enhance or diminish the artist’s vision. The right frame has the capacity to draw out the delicate nuances intended by the artist.”
This truth has a much broader application than just the world of art; it can help all of us in the arena of life. The truth is, how we choose to frame a situation will interpret the way in which we perceive the situation.
Paul was hinting at this when he wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Perhaps one of the most poignant expressions of framing is found in Philippians 4:8, where Paul writes, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Even in a pandemic? Yes, especially in a pandemic!
For years Agnes and I have been longing to connect with our neighbours. However, it has been very difficult because the people on our street are very private and cautious. That is until now! Our common struggle and the vulnerability we feel have created occasions for conversations and even opportunities to pray with them.
Agnes has met a family where the wife is struggling with cancer. When she offered to pray for her, the husband readily agreed and raised his hands in a posture of submission and need. It was powerful. We are framing this difficult season as a gift, not grief—the place for strategic God moments rather than desolation!
I remember visiting the artist at her house and being amazed at how her home was an incredible display of her talent and imagination. In one corner of the hallway there was a painted branch with a beautiful robin perched on it. When I point it out, she smiled and said, “There was a large crack in the wall that we were going to repair but as I looked at it, I saw more than a crack. I saw something beautiful, so I painted the branch and the robin to reveal that God’s glory is found even in the cracks.”
COVID-19, forced isolation, job loss, economic recession, discouragement, and frustration are the cracks we see all around us. But can we see beyond the cracks to the redemptive power of Jesus? We have been given the gift of the opportunity to engage in the art of framing—to see the unseen hand of Jesus navigating His purposes to bring redemption, hope, and healing. What frame of mind do you find yourself in? It’s all about choosing the right frame—Jesus.