On a recent Sunday morning, the senior pastor at the church I attend mentioned a new book he has been reading titled, “Resilient” (2022), by John Eldredge, a New York Times bestselling author, counselor, and President of “Wild at Heart,” which is “a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God and recover their own hearts in God’s love” (quote source inside back cover flap for “Resilient”).
Two days ago I was shopping in a Hobby Lobby store, and among the Christian books being sold (at up to 50% discount) near the front checkout counter area, I noticed a copy of “Resilient” and I decided to buy it. I have previously read books by John Eldredge and his wife, Stasi, who is also an author, and my interest was piqued by the very positive comments regarding this latest book by John Eldredge as stated by the senior pastor.
The human soul has a built-in yearning for joy and beauty and all good things. But that craving for life has taken a real beating in the last few years. Join New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge as he gives you the tools you need to follow Jesus’ path of supernatural resilience so you can reclaim your joy, strengthen your heart, and thrive through the storm.
Between false promises of ease and comfort on one side and the sheer trauma of global disease and disasters on the other, people today are facing a shortage of peace, happiness, and strength. In “Resilient,” Eldredge reveals a path toward genuine recovery and resilience through Jesus himself.
Drawing on wisdom from Scripture and Christian tradition, and illustrated throughout with powerful, true stories of grit and survival, “Resilient” will help you:
- Recover from the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Tap into the river of life that God promises his people
- Learn to be patient with yourself–genuine recovery from spiritual and emotional trauma takes time and intentionality
- Create a plan to foster resilience in your day-to-day life
- Discover deep wells of freedom and strength through Christ who lives within us
Thriving requires a resilient soul. This book will help you find the resilience you long for when the world has gone mad–and discover in Jesus himself the strength that prevails. (Quote source here.)
I’m looking forward to reading the entire book over the next several days, and to pique your interest in this book, as I mentioned above, the first two chapters in the book are available to read online at this link.
So let’s take a closer look at what it means to be resilient. EveryDayHealth.com defines resilience as follows:
Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Being resilient does not mean a person doesn’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Resilience involves the ability to work through emotional pain and suffering.
Resilience is important because it’s needed to process and overcome hardship. Those lacking resilience get easily overwhelmed, and may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Resilient people tap into their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems. (Quote source here.)
From a biblical perspective, what does the Bible have to say about the subject of resilience? GotQuestions.org provides the following information:
Resilience is the quality of being able to adapt to stressful life changes and “bouncing back” from hardship. Resilience is a response to tragedy, crisis, or other life-altering changes that allows us to move on despite the loss. Showing resilience does not mean that a person is unaffected or uncaring about the life change. Resilience is the human heart’s ability to suffer greatly and grow from it. We see examples of national resilience, such as the United States showed after the events of September 11, 2001. We observe personal resilience every day in people who suffer handicaps, deaths of loved ones, and other losses. When people refuse to give up on themselves and the world, even after misfortune, they are being resilient.
Resilience is the biblical norm for Christians. The Bible contains many admonitions to press on (Philippians 3:13–15), overcome hardship and temptation (Romans 12:21), and persevere in the face of trials (James 1:12). It also gives us numerous examples of people who suffered greatly but continued to follow God’s plan for their lives. Proverbs 24:16 could be seen as the theme verse for the resilient:
Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Paul showed great resilience after his life-altering encounter with Jesus (Acts 9). When he was transformed from religious Pharisee to radical Christian, many were not happy with his message. He was beaten, stoned, criticized, jailed, and nearly killed many times (2 Corinthians 11:24–27). One incident especially shows Paul’s exceptional resilience. In Lystra in Asia Minor, he was stoned, dragged out of town, and left for dead, but, when his enemies left, Paul simply got up and went back into the city (Acts 14:19–20). His missionary endeavors continued unabated. Godly resilience enables us to be undeterred from our mission, regardless of the opposition.
In the Old Testament, Job demonstrated great resilience, and God honored him for it. After losing everything, Job was in great agony of soul and body, yet he refused to curse the Lord or give up: “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22). Later, when the suffering intensified, Job’s wife counseled him to “curse God and die!” (Job 2:9), but Job would not even consider such a thing. Despite his suffering, Job knew that God was in control, and that knowledge helped him maintain resilience instead of giving in to defeat. His faith resulted in resiliency.
The believer in Jesus Christ is upheld by God’s power and so is naturally resilient. “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). Christians keep bouncing back. The key to resiliency is faith in the Lord:
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 (Psalm 37:23–24).
One enemy of resilience is the incorrect assumption that we know how things will end. When a situation seems out of control or does not appear to be headed in the right direction, we tend to write “The End” over the story. We think we know the final result, so, instead of exercising resilience, we give up or take matters into our own hands. Proverbs 3:5–6 is a good passage to cling to whenever we can see only disaster ahead:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not to your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct your paths.
Choosing to trust in the Lord rather than rely on what we understand is the best way to stay resilient. (Quote source here.)
In our Western society faith, so often, is an easy choice. We have the freedom to go to church, to read our Bibles, and to talk about our faith without fear of recrimination. But what happens if our comfortable world is shaken in some way? What happens when our choices are restricted or reduced? Will our faith remain steadfast?
Faith is not just about what we know, but in trusting in what we don’t know. Unless we acknowledge that tension, we will never stand firm when second choices threaten to unsettle us.—Jeff Lucas, in his book, “Singing in Babylon”
Resilient faith is based on the knowledge and experience of a steadfast, true and unchanging God. When we live out our lives depending, not on the strength of our faith but on His faithfulness.
Three Ways to Build Resilient Faith
1. Acceptance of God’s Sovereignty
Resilient faith flourishes not because of the circumstances that we are in, but despite the circumstances. The acceptance which changes the “if God blesses, I will worship Him” to “though I do not understand, yet will I worship.”
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.—Habakkuk 3:17-18
This is a beautifully poetic passage from Habakkuk. And reflects one of the greatest declarations of faith in Scripture. The decision to worship God for who He is, our Lord and Savior and to accept His Sovereignty. When we are willing to submit our will to the Lord and trust in Him through our trials we can find peace of mind in daily life. A strength that develops through focusing, on the eternal rather than the temporal, and trusting in the love of the Lord.
2. Choose our attitude
We build spiritual resilience when we cultivate gratitude. When we are thankful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we have left behind or on what we feel we are missing.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus —1 Thessalonians 5:18
We are resilient when we choose to live in the present. When we are willing to adapt and learn from the situation we are in, even when it is not to our choosing. Last year brought challenges with the restrictions that were placed on corporate worship. We then had a choice in how we responded. Were we willing to actively find other ways to connect and worship together. Or would we cling to what we had before, and miss out on a new experience in the present.
3. Walk humbly with God
We accept God’s Sovereignty and give thanks in all circumstances when we maintain the integrity of our faith. To walk humbly with God, reflects our dependence on Him and prayer is the key. Engaging constantly in conversation with God, for “pray continually” comes before “give thanks in all circumstances.” We bring our prayers and petitions to God, we talk with Him and listen for His direction and guidance and receive the strength that we need. God’s grace is sufficient and as we are inspired by His grace we are not intimidated by our circumstances!
Habakkuk completes his prayer, his declaration of faith with the confidence, that with the Lord we can rise above our circumstances:
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.—Habakkuk 3:19
Resilient Faith demonstrated in the Bible
Scripture is full of examples of those who demonstrated resilient faith in their lives, such as Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Peter, Paul, and John…. Those who through immense trials and difficulties showed that we can, not only survive but, thrive where we are planted. For we are all, to a certain extent, “exiles” on earth when our citizenship is in heaven.
In his book, “Singing in Babylon–Finding purpose in Life’s Second Choices,” Jeff Lucas [author, speaker, and senior executive pastor at Timberline Church] explores and develops the theme of second choice lives.
Life is never perfect. As Christians we need to move on from the myth that following Jesus will always give us what we want, our first choice. And that second choices are those situations, very real and painful, that we find ourselves in which we never would have chosen.
Even in chaos, God has a plan and purpose. He works with the found and seeks the lost.—Jeff Lucas
The book focuses on Daniel and his friends and their lifelong exile in Babylon. The author skillfully interweaves their experiences with relevant application for our lives today. The godly principles that Daniel and his friends displayed while living out their lives in exile, brings a challenging message. When all apparent choices had been forcibly taken from them, they resolved to live their lives in worship to God, even when in a strange land.
We too can build resilience into our faith, when we trust in God through the unfamiliar and unknown. And we may find, just like Daniel, that the place of suffering can be a place of refinement and growth, where we develop a resilient faith. (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with the words of Paul found in Romans 8:38-39—For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God…
That is in . . .
Christ Jesus . . .
Our Lord . . . .
YouTube Video: “Stand in Faith” by Danny Gokey: