Resiliency, or the ability to bounce back even stronger from a tough experience, is at the heart of spiritual health.
There are three practical ways to build resiliency by time in the Word/prayer. God helps us to stand firm in the faith and come out better from the trauma of a fallen world and our sinful nature. But, we also have a role to play: In 1 Peter 5:9-10, Peter asks believers to stand firm in the faith even in the face of suffering. Verse 10 adds that God restores people because of “His calling us to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while. He will make you strong, firm and steadfast.” We stay on target by His grace, power and personal care/shepherding in our lives.
Our personal spiritual disciplines are crucial as tools of God in the process.
So what do we need to be resilient in Christ? There are three key steps:
- Strengthen Our Identity as a Beloved Child of God which comes from experiencing God as Father, trusting his leading and having an ability to be guided by God through His Word and prayer. These help us to build courage to be decisive (not double-minded or doubtful), yet also to have a posture of learning from God and other people. Confidence that God is with us and loves us yields a higher tolerance for distress and uncertainty as well as the ability to handle failure/weakness without despair.
- Cultivate Healthy Relationships which are evidenced by our ability to give and take in our interactions with others, including a capacity to forgive and negotiate. We need a well-established network of friends, including one or more who serve as confidants, but we also need the ability to relate to dissimilar people. Our emotional and spiritual awareness rooted in humility increases the recognition and development of our own gifts as well as the talents of others.
- Clarify Our Purpose and Goals which help us to see beyond the tough times of life and motivate us to move forward on the promises of God. These are gained from time in the Word and finding His direction in prayer. We need a clear sense of purpose to focus on tasks and on people in the face of the inevitable ambiguity of life. We need a philosophical and theological framework of hope and joy in God where our personal experience can be interpreted with meaning and hope, even at life’s seemingly most hopeless moments. 1 Thes 1:3, 6 “endurance due to hope”; Acts 13:49-52 “full of joy and the Holy Spirit”.
Are you growing in identity, relationships and purpose through your personal spiritual disciplines and time with believers? Resiliency comes from our deep contentment and total dependence on Christ. Pastor David Platt at McLean Bible Church explains: “When you face abundance exalt Jesus as the giver of that abundance. When you face need, cling to Jesus as the goal.”
Jayakumar Christian. In his book, God of the Empty-Handed: Poverty, Power and the Kingdom of God, Dr. Christian discusses the forces that keep the poor trapped in poverty. This includes a poverty of being (a broken sense of identity), a poverty of relationships (societal relationships working to maintain their entrapment rather than empowering them), and a poverty of purpose (a lack of vision for the future and lack of a powerful sense of vocation). He advocates for a holistic response to the powerlessness of the poor and for building their sense of self through reconnecting with their God-given identity.