April 4, 2017

What Marshmallows Have to Do with Faith

Written by Shana Schutte

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 4, 2017

By Shana Schutte

And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:3

I bet you have never thought that faith has anything to do with marshmallows, but it absolutely does—and I learned that it does while recently listening to Invisibilia, an NPR podcast.

During each episode, Invisibilia addresses the unseen things that motivate and shape people such as expectations and beliefs. During one particular show, the hosts discussed the popular Youtube video, “The Marshmallow Test.” In this test, a small child is ushered into a room by a researcher, seated, and given one marshmallow. The researcher then tells the child she is leaving, but that if he will wait and not eat the marshmallow, that he will be given a second marshmallow when the researcher returns in approximately 15 minutes.   

The Marshmallow Test has its roots in The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment which was a series of studies on delayed gratification conducted in the late 1960s and 1970s by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University.

In an interview for Invisibilia, Mischel said that the main point of the experiment was that if the researcher told a child something like, “Imagine that this is not a marshmallow at all. It’s just a picture of a marshmallow” then suddenly, a little girl who couldn’t delay gratification for more than a few minutes could resist temptation for 15 minutes simply by thinking differently about her circumstances.  

Mischel’s statements hit me and a deluge of thoughts began circling in my mind:

The child Mischel describes could act differently because she thought differently. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to what happens to us. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Jesus said we should think thoughts that are pure and lovely and of a good report. (Philippians 4:8).

God has called us to frame our life experiences within the context of His truth and when we do, when we think the way God thinks, then we will act differently because we think differently. How we think shapes who we are and how we navigate life.

God has given us minds to create and to influence. We are to use our minds to agree with Him.

The good news is that no matter what we are going through, God has given His kids the ability to agree with Him. He has given us the ability to think about our circumstances the way He  thinks about them. So rather than tell ourselves, “I can’t do this.” “I can’t take any more.” “I can’t go on,” we can reframe our experiences within the context of faith. So we say, “I can’t do this, Lord. But you can. You will enable me.” And just like the little girl who can endure a “marshmallow temptation” by reframing her circumstance, we have the blessed privilege of “reframing” our circumstances too, within the context of God’s truth and His love for us. Then we can press on.

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to what happens to you—and that makes all the difference. Do you need to “reframe” your experiences today within the light of God’s truth and love for you? Try it. I think you’ll like it.

“With your help, I can advance against a troop; with my God, I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29).



Lord, your words are literally life—and they change my life. Help me to “frame” all my experiences by your truth. Amen.


Do you need to reframe one of your life experiences in God’s truth? Talk with God about it today and accept His truth regarding your circumstances. Choose to believe Him.

Related Reading

Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Psalm 144:10

Post/Tweet today

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to what happens to you. #WisdomHunters #thinkright

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  1. Susan says:

    Excellent! Oh that we would take the time in God’s presence to allow Him, His Word to change our perspective. Thank you for the reminder.

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