Victor Frankl who as a psychiatrist and a Jew was imprisoned by the Nazis in their death camps during World War II. It was there that he experienced things so repugnant to a normal person’s senses that he could scarcely reduce them to words.
Frankl’s parents, brother, and wife died in the camps or were murdered in the gas ovens. Of his immediate family only his sister survived the camps. Frankl himself suffered torture and innumerable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his captors would send him to the ovens or leave him among those who were “saved” and left with the task of removing the bodies or shoveling out the ashes of those who had been cremated while they were still alive.
One day, naked and alone in a small room, Frankl began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms”—the one freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. Frankl openly acknowledged that the Nazis could control his entire environment and do what they wanted with his body. They could not, however, destroy his inner identity. He saw himself as a self-aware human being who had an ability to be a somewhat objective observer of his situation. He still had the power within himself to determine how his outer circumstances and the ‘Nazis’ treatment of him were going to affect his inner self. He saw that there was a gap between what happened to him (the stimulus) and his reaction to the stimulus (response), and that in that gap lay the freedom or power to choose a response.
Frankl came face-to-face with the reality that his own choices, not his circumstances, defined his identity. No matter how horrific the environment was in which he lived, and no matter how much humiliation and degradation others heaped upon him, he was still in control of how he chose to respond.
Our Own Choices Defines Our Identity!
No matter what you may have been through, even unspeakable pain, you are still in control of your identity. No event can change you on the inside unless you allow it to do so. No person can cause you to respond in a particular way on the inside unless you choose to react that way. The freedom to forge your own opinions, ideas, attitudes, and choices rests solely and uniquely with you.
Charles Swindoll wrote: “The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude.”
There are those who allow the demonic to induce them into entering into a life-style of morbid self-scrutiny. They are always going back on themselves, analyzing their motives, re-considering past acts of consecration, and comparing themselves with themselves. When we have given all to God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our hearts we can then choose to forgive, renounce, and openly repent for past sins and the poor choices we have made and we can go on and live in the freedom He has intended for us from the beginning. It is then that “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” is made manifest in our lives. Philippians 3:13. The question is, not whether we did as well as we should have, but whether we have allowed Him to redeem the mistakes of the past and heal our hearts with His great unfathomable love.
A very able and gracious lady was stricken with arthritis. Her life’s work had come to an end. She lay a helpless invalid and in great pain for many years. But to say that her work was ended is not quite true. It assumed a higher form. Each morning she had her friends carry her to a window in her home where the factory workers would pass by as they walked to and from the factory. As they went to their job each morning they were greeted with her friendly smile, and at evening when the day’s work was done there was that same face with its smile—in spite of the unfairness of life. For years that face lighted all those who passed by. When she died, four factories closed down to let the men attend the funeral of the woman who had let them see into a heart of beauty through the door of pain and who had let them see God through calamity.
Could The Very Thing We Thought Was Our Surmise, Become Our New Beginning?
There was a lady in India who lived as an invalid, walking with crutches because of a spinal injury. One day as she was going down the steps in her home she fell, breaking one crutch and losing the other on the way down. She lay at the bottom of the steps and called for help. But it was noon and everyone was away. Finally, when no help was forthcoming, with a prayer she drew herself by the handrail and after a long struggle pulled herself to her feet, and began to walk, and she has been walking ever since—without the crutches! It would seem that the best thing that ever happened to her was that fall, though for the moment it seemed to be, misfortune upon misfortune.
John 14:27, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus said to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” not because they were to be protected from all the troubles of this world but because they were ‘to believe in God.’ Faith in God and his purposes will not save us from the troubles, but will give us the strength to pass through them, for the troubles themselves can be made into the agents of redemption. If this is so, then ‘even if the world falls to ruin, the man of faith will be undismayed under its ruins.’ For the fact is, that if the world’s systems do come crashing down, we can get along without the world, for our own inner world remains intact. The man who is not dependent on anything of this earth but knows he is in right relationship with his God, will live in a place of safety and peace.
Within this life we all will experience sorrows and joys, hard times and happier times. We have observed that God seldom uses any individual unless he has experienced some testing of trials, adversity and pain. Jesus began his ministry with a wilderness experience, and it ended with his crucifixion and Resurrection. Maybe your life has had more than its share of disappointments and hardships. But in all of that you can be sure that our Lord is faithful and that His love and joy will sustain and strengthen us as we draw near to Him. A noble character is made through the stress and struggle that life brings and our choice in how to react to them. Most of all may we know and be known by Him and allow Him to transform us into His likeness.
In the North of India some rug weavers were busy working. They patiently sat for weeks, often months making just one rug. If you gazed at the rug you would have felt the futility of their sitting there so long, for the rug seemed to be full of blotches and blurs and knots. But you would be looking at the wrong side of the rug. If you would go around to the weaver’s side, you would see the pattern that was unfolding—–and how beautiful it would be! It was worth the patience.
Perhaps even now you struggle to see anything other than the wrong side of God’s purpose for your life. But one day you will stand and see things as he sees them, and then you will gasp at the wonder of the plan that unfolds. In that exquisite weave of the tapestry you shall see your life and the lives of those that you have touched woven together in the beautiful masterpiece of life’s journey.
We pray that He will direct your path and keep you in His perfect peace . Much love Always,
Rex & Lois
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We just got your monthly letter in the mail today- I just wanted to let you know how much this message spoke to my heart. I know it will minister to Jack, too. I will also be sharing it with some of our friends and family. We are glad and honored to be a small part of your ministry!
Thank you so much for your response and encouragement Nancy. We are really blessed that this message spoke to your heart and pray that it will minister to Jack and your friends and family as well.
Blessings and In His love Always,
Lois and Rex