From the moment we are born to the moment we draw our last breath, we are placing our faith in someone or something. All of us are on a faith journey – and it’s not just those who have placed their faith in Christ.
Resilience is often a misunderstood concept in our society. We hear about resilience as the ability to: “spring back;” “pick yourself back up;” or “overcome challenges.” These descriptions make a better definition for survival – “the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.” (Oxford Dictionary)
Real resilience is “the process of coping with disruptive, stressful, or challenging life events in a way that provides the individual with additional protective and coping skills than prior to the disruption, that results from the event.” (“Resiliency in Schools” 2003) Resiliency is not surviving, but thriving because of adversity.
I know on my own faith journey I have gone through immense amounts of loneliness, pain, and subsequent addictions that I am not proud of. Although pain is a part of the faith journey, I have at times let my pain point me to places where I did not place my faith in Christ, but in a cheap substitute.
Too often we choose a path that medicates our pain, instead of allowing our faith to grow into something bigger and stronger. Growth is painful. And pain is something we are culturally conditioned to fix, instead of endure. But Paul says this:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
Hope? Is that all we get from toughing it out?
But this isn’t the kind of hope where “Geez, I hope this works out.” This is the kind of hope that is like an absolute anchor or rock to our faith journey. We can put all of our faith in it without wavering because it will hold. When the storm surges and the wind howls, we can have this hope through Christ that transforms our experience.
Here is how hope transforms our faith.
|A Surviving Faith
||A Resilient Faith|
|Bitterness – Hebrews 12:14-15||Acceptance – Psalm 19:14|
|Resentment – Galatians 5:20||Contentment – Philippians 4:12-13|
|Unforgiveness – Matthew 6:14-15||Forgiveness – Psalm 32|
|Addiction – 1 Corinthians 6:12||Connection – Galatians 6:2|
|Loneliness – Psalm 25:16,||Community – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12|
|Depression – 1 Peter 5:7||Peace – Philippians 4:7|
|Shame – Psalm 69: 5,7||Wholeness – James 1:2-5|
|Guilt – 2 Corinthians 7:10||Resolution – Hebrews 4:15-16|
*A couple of points about this contrast: its not exhaustive; its not meant to condemn but to provide a filter which to look at how you are processing the different aspects of your life.
When you look at your pain points and wounds, would you say they have strengthened your faith or weakened it? Have you medicated your pain (alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc.), instead of facing it? Have you invested your faith in self-reliance, instead of in the Savior?
Faith as a Rubber Band
Resilience is much like a rubber band but for a Christian it takes on a deeper fuller meaning when you combine it with your faith.
A rubber band when stretched returns back to its original form. I don’t think our faith in Christ was ever intended to return back to its original form. I believe as our heavenly father stretches our faith he does so to transform it into something bigger and stronger. Thicker and wider. Wiser and kinder. Our faith begins to produce fruit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The point of our faith isn’t just for us. It’s for those who we love and serve as well. Our families should be direct recipients of seeing our faith stretched and conformed into His image. Our churches and communities should be profoundly changed and shaped as they see our faith being stretched into something that doesn’t proclaim our own glory but His.
When we walk through the tough stuff of life and are not strengthened through the trial, we rob God of His glory. We rob God of the opportunity to strengthen not only our own faith, but those around us.
In Ephesians 3, Paul writes, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
I hope this post causes you to reflect on your faith and how you are currently responding to the things of life. Are you able to see and to trust the Lord as he stretches your “faith band” into something more beautiful and more profound than anything you could ever dream or imagine? Maybe some of you feel like your faith “rubber band” is torn and tattered. If that is you my prayer is that you would know there is a God who redeems and restores if you would just allow Him (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Much love from someone who is constantly having his rubber band stretched…