Saturday, June 4, 2016

Resilience: Have You Got It?

“And David was greatly distressed…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” – 1 Samuel 30:6

         J.I. Packer has called resilience one of the signs of Spiritual maturity. I agree. Someone once asked, “Is it a sin to be discouraged,” to which the reply came, “No, but it is a sin to refuse to be encouraged.” When Jacob was convinced that his beloved son, Joseph, was dead, Genesis 37:35 says that all the efforts of his other sons and daughters to console him were to no avail, not because he could not be comforted, but because “he refused to be comforted.” In fact, he swore to spend the rest of his life in that inconsolable state.

         What does it mean to be resilient? Literally, it means, “returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.”  Applying it personally, it’s someone who recovers readily from “illness, depression, adversity, or the like.”  When I read the first (the literal) definition of the word, I’m reminded of the great Apostle Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired of life.” He knew what it was to feel as though everything was closing in on him, with no strength, even to the point of lifelessness or death. Yet he goes on the say in the next verses, it was then he and those with him remembered that the God they served raises the dead, both figuratively and literally.

         I don’t care who you are or how “sunny” a disposition you may possess, this life is capable of knocking any of us to the ground, even to the disparage of life. It’s a given. It’s what comes next that separates the mature from the immature. When a small child falls down, his or her first instinct is to cry, sometimes long and loudly. But as we mature, we want to quickly get up and dust ourselves off. J It’s the same spiritually. Our misfortunes, maladies, or missteps, with all the sympathy and/or attention they may bring can become more familiar, and dare I say, more comfortable to us than the alternative. It’s easier to sit down than stand up, and it’s easier to stay down than to rebound, especially when there’s no one around to encourage you. This is why the words in First Samuel are so precious to me: “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” That was when his own “holy resilience” (and reliance on God) kicked in!

         How about you and me? We have the Holy Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead living within us. We may fall, but we can get up; and we can get up sooner rather than later. And did you know it’s possible to jump up so quickly from a tumble that hardly anyone even notices?

Instead of having a bad day, wouldn’t you love to be able to say, “Whew, I was discouraged there for a minute!”  Now, that’s what I want.

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