Resilience—the word for 2021

    Jan 6, 2021 | by Andrea Stephens

    Note: This is longer than usual so you might want to grab a hot chocolate and take a seat! 

    As we say goodbye to 2020 and the unexpected pandemic, resilience might be the needed word for 2021.  So many of us have found ourselves in situations that have us needing to continue living in circumstances we didn’t choose.  I recently sat across the table from a tearful teacher who has been forced to adapt to distance learning with her students.  Every morning the principal sends out a list of things they are expected to do.  The technology requirements are overwhelming her leaving her feeling inadequate and fearful of losing her job if she can’t keep up. 

    Another woman finds herself caring for her husband who has become very ill due to complications of COVID.  There’s no money for home health care so she bathes, feeds, and keeps him company as best she can. Yet as we talked, she admitted that she is just plain weary to the bone. 

    Many moms have struggled with suddenly having their kids home and the extra responsibility of becoming their teacher or needing to oversee their virtual learning.  Families have had to adapt to dad working from home or worse, losing his job landing him on the couch in despair—day after day.  One young mom found herself needing to flee her home with her baby son due to her husband’s episodes of rage that have developed since the pandemic cost him his job.

    These are just a few examples.  Perhaps you have a story to add.  Whatever the situation, when we find ourselves under prolonged stress, we just naturally grow weary.  Fatigue sets in.  We look for ways to cope, to help us keep on keeping on, to lift our spirit.

    What we need—and what is available to us—is Holy Spirit resilience. Some of you have already experienced it this year.  Others of you might need to draw on it before you wave the white flag of surrender.  Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficult circumstances, to spring back into shape.  It is the quality of being able to adapt to stressful life changes and bounce back from hardship, suffering, or loss.  It is getting back up and up and up when life knocks you down. A refusal to quit. 

    What makes our resilience different is that it is empowered by the Holy Spirit.  It is not about us digging deep and mustering up as much oomph as we can. That is helpful, yes, but the Holy Spirit, who resides in believers, is valuable 24/7 to give us the resilience we need.  We simply ask in prayer, then move forward in faith.  As we do, the Holy Spirit’s power will meet us at our point of need.

    When I think about it, resilience could be considered normal for the Christian. As we look into Scripture, we see evidence of resilience. But instead of the word resilience, we see terms like press on (Phil. 3:13-15), overcome (Romans 12:21), and persevere (James 1:12).  Think of Paul.

    We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).  Paul depended on the Holy Spirit to keep him going in the face of many types of opposition.  He prayed; God provided. 

    Couple that with one other key to resilience: delighting yourself in the Lord.  Delight means to take great pleasure and find joy.  Psalm 37:23-24 teaches us that:  The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. You might feel weary or like you are going down, but the LORD IS HOLDING YOUR HAND! Close your eyes and envision this. Reach up in the air and take his hand.  He will never let go! In fact, you are engraved on the palm of His hand! (Isaiah 49:16).

    So, what does it look like to delight yourself in the Lord?  How do you do it?

         By seeing every good thing that comes into your life as a gift from the Father (James 1:17).

         By meditating, studying, obeying and rejoicing in God’s Word, the Bible (Psalm 1:1-3).

         By being aware that the Holy Spirit is your constant companion.

         By reflecting on the various names of God and internalizing them as who God is for you personally.

         By worshipping Him daily, offering adoration, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19), singing with thankfulness in your heart to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

    And the result of delighting yourself in the Lord?  It boosts your level of faith and trust.  It is having steadfast faith and trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God that is the spring which propels us back up so we can stand firm (even if others are holding our arms up as with Moses) and keep going. Calling on the Holy Spirit’s power and delighting yourself in the Lord brings an inner strength that keeps you going. That’s resilience.  That’s what I know I need as we head into 2021.  What about you?

    "Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes."

    Proverbs 24:16

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