Closing out seven months of a bold journey with my One Word, Resilience, beckoned me to time spent on reflections of Resilience revelations so far. Though a word which fails to conform to many of the usual methods of exploration; it boasts a depth well worth the effort of engagement.
The lessons so far, speak deeply into my life. I created a special page on my blog where all my Resilience posts live, please take the time to read past posts for more insight into my journey.
Pursuing a practice of meditating on biblical examples of Resilience, this month landed me with the Apostle’s Paul’s reflections of resilience in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.2 Corinthians 4:7-10
With much to digest in these verses, Resilience invited me to a banquet where I feasted on a deeper illustration and understanding of my bold word friend.
reflections of resilience origins
Reflecting on the genesis of my journey, I recalled the generally accepted definition of Resilience. Marked by the idea of having a ready ability for recovering from misfortune, its etymology from the Latin, resilientem (normative resiliens) present participle of resilire to rebound, recoil (re—back = salire to jump, leap); reveals the concept of “rebounding” as in a spring’s response when extended and released.
From reflections of Resilience origins we often view resilience as an individual’s capacity for coping with stress and adversity.
But this popularly accepted view of Resilience falls well short of what the Apostle Paul intimates in the verses above. Oddly enough, science provides a fuller understanding of Resilience through its definition as used in physics.
Resilience, as understood in physics, is a material’s ability to absorb energy when deformed elastically, and release that same energy when the initial stress unloads, without creating a permanent distortion.
Additionally, the material’s “rebounding” was not the result of its own energy, but that of the outside force.
Certainly, the Apostle Paul’s description in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 indicates the very property of Resilience we know from physics.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;2 Corinthians 4:8-9
resilience in the christian life
Another property inherent with a physical material’s Resilience in physics is reflected in a stronger, better material than before the stress. Bible narratives abound showcasing the reality of the truth Paul expounds in 2 Corinthians.
The Christian life illustrates not only the positive ability of adaptation and recovery in hardship, but the evidence of transformation for the better as a result of the hardship.
Consider the story of Joseph; at first the favored son, then slave, outcast, and prisoner. Only to emerge in time to a position of respect and power.
Or Daniel, a descendent of King David, resident in the royal court known for his wisdom and intelligence, carried captive to Babylon, eventually, like Joseph elevated to a position of respect and power.
And even the Apostle Paul; well-educated, taught under famous rabbi Gamaliel and on the way to becoming a rabbi himself; meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, is blinded, and ends up spending three years in the wilderness. Incredibly persecuted throughout his ministry, but arguably the most powerful Apostle of Christ.
biblical reflections of resilience
Each of these heroes of the faith and many more throughout the pages of our Bibles, testify to facing troubling circumstances without distress; perplexity without despair; persecution yet not forsaken by God, and cast down by suffering, though not destroyed.
Pressed out of measure, altered; yet transformed, by the very hardships which threatened to destroy them.
In the lives of Joseph, Daniel, and the Apostle Paul, as we meet them before, during, and after the hardships preserved in the scriptures, the Holy Spirit reveals victories the caliber of which no mortal man is capable.
What sets these men apart is their steadfast faith in God. A faith sourced in hope yet unseen; but which oozed Resilience from every pore of their being. Testifying the power which preserved them and wrought their victories was solely of God.
reflections of resilience
My reflections on Resilience left me with a better understanding of my bold One Word friend, but they also left me with a question. Looking back over Paul’s reflection in 2 Corinthians, I wonder if verse 10 provides the key to Resilience?
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.2 Corinthians 4:10
Paul describes biblical Resilience evidenced in our encounters with troubling circumstances, grief, persecution, and devastating suffering redeemed by the power of God. For Resilience in the life of the believer proclaims the greatest story ever told.
As fragile vessels, we hold the treasure of the gospel by the express design of God, that its excellent power pours forth by God’s power and not our own.
In every encounter with hardship, we illusrate the dying of the Lord Jesus; while God’s resurrection power in the form of Resilience shows forth life in Christ Jesus, a glorious victory.
So then, perhaps the level of Resilience seen in my life is directly proportionate to my submission to God in the midst of my suffering. Yielding the realization that Resilience speaks the gospel story through the resurrection power of God living in me.