As we enter the discussion on resilience this month, God has provided the ultimate example of what human resilience should look like. Under the global threat of COVID-19 here in the United States, we once again see Americans rising to the challenge. From showing acts of love and kindness to neighbors and first responders, to the homemade manufacturing of face masks, to the incredible spike in the use of technology for the purpose of reaching out to others and building a virtual community, Americans are once again displaying the resilient spirit that makes this country great.
Though resilience is part of the underlying nature of being human, Christians should recognize that this default switch in our nature was given to us by the Father Himself in order to bear up under the weight and pressure of this life.
2 Corinthians 4 teaches us as Christians that our great source of resilience (flexibility, durability, strength, toughness) comes from the Good News that Christ is now dwelling in us. We are but fragile containers for this great power and yet, through Him, all our cracked pieces are held together in a way that though we are fragile, we are also like titanium.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NLT
I know some of you are thinking: “I don’t feel very resilient right now.” Honestly, I have had the same thought as well.
Here is the beauty of our default switch of resilience –most of the time we are completely unaware that it has even kicked in. But the people around us see it, especially those without the saving grace of Jesus. They see something different in us and they are drawn to it subconsciously. They yearn for the hope that they see displayed in us. Their souls are crying out to understand how we face the things we face and yet still come out on top.
Our problem as Christians is that we so easily forget the past. Once the crisis is behind us, we forget what God has brought us through until we are faced with the next crisis. But since we all have at least one experience with God to draw from, we have the ability to fall back on our faith, allow our trust in God to grow, and activate our resilience.
Though COVID-19 has taken the lives of more New Yorkers than those that died in the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center, I am certain the families of those 9/11 victims don’t see COVID-19 as overtaking their experience with death and loss. Yet through their experience, the families of 9/11 victims now have an opportunity to show families of COVID-19 victims that survival of this great tragedy is possible and if they allow God to use them, good can come from their current despair.
Let’s look to an example from the Bible. When I think of resilience, I often think of King David. Here is a man that loved God and yet went through season after season of uncertainty, pain, and loss as well as seasons of great joy. The book of Psalms is filled with pages of David weeping one minute and rejoicing the next. David was resilient.
After sinning with Bathsheba and living in denial of his sin, the Lord caused their first child to become deathly ill. 2 Samuel 12 shows us David’s response to his son’s illness:
David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused. vv. 16-17 NLT
When David had to face his sinful nature, he constantly sought the Lord to reclaim his peace. When he faced great tragedy as a result of his sin, he didn’t hide his grief but allowed himself to work through the pain. Don’t miss that –he allowed himself to work through the pain. When we allow ourselves to go through the situation in front of us, holding tightly to our belief in God and His righteousness, resilience is waiting on the other side.
Once David knew that his son had died, the Bible records this:
Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate. 2 Samuel 12:20 NLT
Talk about a 180!! That is a perfect picture of Christian resilience.
David recognized that at the end of the day God was sovereign, that He remained in control of David’s life, and that God’s ways (though we don’t always understand them) are perfect. It allowed David to recover from the situation and to recover quickly.
Let’s do a heart check on the subject of resilience. Have we truly handed over all our worries to God? Or are we still holding on to them so that we feel some sense of control? Can we honestly say that we believe God is sovereign in our life? Or are we trying to overcome certain situations in our own strength and not His? Will you allow your fear and worry over the current COVID-19 situation to be what people remember you for? Or will you allow your God-given resilience to take over and be a shining light of hope for a very lost and scared world?
Whatever the situation is that you are facing right now, remember the steps of David. Seek God. Pray to Him. Accept the answer He gives. Trust He is in control. These four steps activate your default switch of resilience. May the light within you shine brightly!!
Lord, we are living in unprecedented times and yet, You are not surprised by any of it. Forgive us when we forget to acknowledge Your sovereignty and grace in every situation. Forgive us when we forget that nothing is ever wasted and that Your ways are always higher than our ways. Thank you, Father, that You have given us the ability to be resilient. Be patient with us as we continue to learn to activate it. For Your glory and Your glory alone, we press on! Amen.
Founder, Transforming Love Ministries
Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference
For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.