Often misunderstood, the word “virtue” intimidates most people. Somewhat archaic, its usage in our modern language is relegated to classic or religious literature. Yet, visiting with my One Word friend this month, revealed not only its transforming power over adversity, but its merit as a virtue.
Amazingly, my journey with my bold friend, resilience, reaches the halfway mark this month! 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 madness.
Stumbling upon a particular quote from Eric Greitens plunged me into the connection between resilience and virtue.
No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength-if we have the virtue of resilience.Eric Greitens
transforming my understanding of virtue
At the mention of the word, “virtue”, most people think “moral excellence”, which is only partly true. The word geek in me harbors an extreme dislike for the vacuous nature of modern dictionaries.
Stripped of the rich nuances once present in the English language we lose the full meaning of many older words; virtue is no exception.
Websters 1828 dictionary retains the meaning of moral excellence for the word virtue, but it places it in the third and fourth positions of understanding. The very first definition given for virtue is strength, the second, bravery or valor.
Viewing resilience on par with virtue suddenly comes into clear view.
the transforming power of resilience in pain
Continuing then in pondering Greitens’ quote, the problem of pain presented my first exploration. Truly, pain is unavoidable in this life, whether physical, emotional or even spiritual. The experience of pain, however in God’s kingdom is never without purpose.
Though we view pain as the enemy of our joy, in actuality, it provides the source for much of our Joy.
Our attempts at escaping pain or pushing through as quickly as possible robs us of the wisdom encased within its redemptive lessons. From the simplicity of learning the stove is hot by burning our hands; to making better relationship choices, and loving more fully through grief. We learn better self-discipline and the taming of wayward tongues, through the painful consequences of foolish choices.
Even unrelenting physical pain does God’s bidding in softening harsh edges, building patience, and dependence on God alone.
As I nurture the virtue of resilience, instead of shrinking from, or rushing through painful circumstances, I invincibly embrace pain’s lessons for my life. Receiving the wisdom only pain provides, helps me view God’s perfect purpose in seeming hopeless situations.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.2 Corinthians 4:16
the transforming power of resilience in fear
Of all the emotions, fear remains one of the most uncomfortable; yet one many of us befriend on a regular basis. Everyone experiences fear at some point in their lives. Strangely enough, you need fear to survive the constant changing of life and society. Fear helps you evaluate risks, make informed decisions, and avoid physical and emotional harm.
While fear protects us, it has a dark side. Too little fear causes imprudence and recklessness. Too much fear results in paralyzing daily life, leading to the weariness of irrational thinking.
Appropriating the virtue of resilience once again, we shift our focus from the fear of the unknown in front of us, to the confidence of God’s promises and Presence with us.
Resilience breathes courage into my soul as I face fears armed with the knowledge God’s sovereign will holds me firmly in the center of His perfect plan and purpose for my life. While the enemy quickly wields the weapon of discouragement, resilience arms me with courage as I rest in God’s sovereign protection.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.Isaiah 41:13
The transforming power of resilience over suffering
Continuing my view of resilience through the eyes of the strength, bravery and moral excellence of virtue, brought me to the most poignant transformation of all: strength from suffering.
Suffering implies something prolonged. We often think of seasons of suffering, periods of enduring hardship rather than a single isolated incident. Grief results from one tragic life event, but the suffering extends long past the event.
Unresolved relational issues, prodigal children, chronic illness, financial hardship, all contribute to emotional, physical and spiritual suffering lasting for undetermined time periods.
When in the midst of these suffering seasons we rarely understand the purpose and seldom notice the benefits of strength built into our lives.
But much like regular exercise reveals increased strength in bones and muscles, time reveals new strength resulting from the stress placed on our soul’s faith. The Apostle Paul gloried in his physical weaknesses, for in them he was strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Resilience empowers me with endurance in the face of prolonged suffering as God strengthens my faith with a hope which sees beyond the present to the glory which is to come. (Romans 8:18)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.1 Peter 5:10
the virtue of resilience
To my complete surprise, as I continued meditating on the components of the quote, I realized each step built upon the one before it.
Embracing the purpose in pain, yielded wisdom which better guided my life in God’s ways.
Deeper knowledge of God’s ways increased my trust in His promises, allowing me to face my fears, clinging to God’s promises and Presence, arming me with courage.
Possessing a deeper knowledge of God’s ways, leading to a firm trust in His promises and Presence, arms me with courage, which enables me to submit to suffering, ultimately yielding strength of faith and hope in the glory beyond this present world’s hardships.
What at first appeared an interesting quote, resulted in understanding the transforming power of resilience as a virtue. Flowing from God to me, anchoring me to God; blessing me with unshakeable faith that grows stronger through every subsequent trial.