As we move through the phases of recovery in Louisiana, there are many things that make us weary, there are so many questions, there are many unknowns. But for all of those mysteries there are some certainties. I want to encourage you today to have a resilient faith.
Dr. Abby Rosenberg: “Modern psychology and social science define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.”
Rick Warren: It’s the ability to bounce back. It’s the ability to keep going. Nobody goes through life with an unbroken chain of successes. Everybody has failures and mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. We all have pain. We all have problems. We all have pressures. The people who make it in life have resilience.
Resilience is one of the most important character traits we can develop as a church and as individual Christians.
In Sports, Science, Education …. and every other field … the ones who stand out are the ones who found the power to be resilient.
The Bible is Filled with Reminders of Resilience
Joshua 14:10-11 [Caleb]…Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me.”
Daniel prayed three times a day – even when it became illegal!
Habakkuk 3:17-18 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
And the stories of great men and women of the Bible are stories of resilient faith.
Noah didn’t let any challenge keep him from building the ark.
Moses faced one hardship after another but kept calling on the name of the Lord.
Deborah was called upon to lead Israel into battle and was victorious.
Young Mary was told she would give birth to the son of God
Peter – challenged from within and without – always managed to get back up on his feet.
I want to have that kind of faith – the kind that cannot be defeated – even by my own failures. How do I build resilience into my faith?
We can follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who is one of the greatest examples of resilience in the New Testament.
HOW TO BUILD A RESILIENT FAITH
Strengthen Your Relationships.
Paul’s ministry was always connected with others as he served. His letters are sprinkled with personal notes to individuals. His missionary journeys were never a one-man-show – but a team effort. The ‘One Another’ passages in his letters emphasize how important it is to be connected to each other: Serve, Forgive, Motivate, Encourage, Submit to, and over and over again: Love One Another.
One of the sources of strength we have had during this pandemic is the power of relationships with our friends. This is also a strength of the church – and what has made it difficult that we are not meeting together. I’m thankful for technology to connect – because every relationship is important to my ability to be resilient.
Choose Meaningful Goals.
Paul was someone who thought about the purpose of his life.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.
2 Corinthians 5:9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
Philippians 3:15 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Part of having a resilient faith is to set and work toward goals. This lifts our eyes off of the problems and struggles of each day to an achievable prospect for the future. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning. Be proactive. Figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.
Remember Your Journey.
Paul often reflected on the past and where God carried Him through. He recounts his conversion story at least three times. He remembers how various Christians have played a role in his life. He remembers the struggles.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
When we are going through difficulty we can forget that God has carried us through every struggle we’ve ever had. You have survived 100% of the days you’ve had before today! Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify things that helped and things that didn’t … for future reference.
We’ve already noted that Apostle Paul considered himself pressing on to receive the heavenly prize. Looking forward is not worrying about tomorrow – it is expressing hope for better days ahead.
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we can be so focused on the news, the pandemic, the struggles of our country that we lose hope. Remain hopeful.
Think positive thoughts. Avoid catastrophic thinking by reading and watching things that lift your spirits. Talk to others about how you are feeling. Do whatever it takes to stay hopeful. Be grateful for anything that is going well, no matter how insignificant it may seem.Dr. Michael Ungar
Attending to the Spiritual Life
Apostle Paul always attributed his strength and all that was valuable about his life to Jesus Christ.
Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Prayer / Scripture Reading and Meditation / Books & Video Resources
We can learn a lot about resilience from the Apostle Paul.
Jesus, though, is the ultimate model of Christ of resilience. After all he experienced, He resurrected from the dead, showing everyone His power to defeat the world, the flesh, the devil and even death through His resurrection power that is greater than life itself. After his resurrection Jesus said to the disciples, “All power in heaven and earth is given to Me… Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19,20) (Fritz)
As we make our way through this COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions and challenges of it, pay attention to your faith and be resilient …
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller
Let’s be overcomers. Amen.