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Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy or significant sources of stress.
No matter who we are, or how life is currently going, one thing that is inevitable is that our faith will be tested.
These challenges can range from our everyday struggles and disappointments to life changing losses. The quality of our faith – our faith in God, our faith in relationships, and our faith in life – is revealed during these times of testing.
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Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.James 1:2-4 MSG
Tests, pressure, setbacks, failure, and trouble force our faith into the open and reveal its true colors. We need Bible verses about resilience like this to help us believe that those challenges don’t have to own us.
In football, the term “front-runner” is used to describe a player who is enthusiastic, energetic and engaged while the game is going their way and the team is winning. But as soon as they encounter a setback or fall behind in the game, they collapse – quickly retreating, they make less effort and eventually give up.
To illustrate this concept, take a look this classic scene from Rudy (easily a contender for most youtube-embed-worthy inspirational sports movie):
Lately I have started to see myself as a “spiritual front-runner.” Friends have been helping me see my weaknesses and sins as they pertain to my faith, marriage, relationships and leadership, and I have not responded well. Typically I am an enthusiastic person, but facing these truths has left me feeling angry and self-piteous.
Needless to say, it’s a far-cry from the “sheer gift” attitude described in James 1.
I am learning that God is using these challenges to help me understand the reality of the condition of my faith. By forcing me to confront truth, God is helping me to become mature, well-developed and ready for the next stage of my life.
What obstacles are you facing in your life that God is using to mature, develop and prepare you for the next stage of your life?
In this devotional, we’ve put together examples of resilience in the Bible that will give you the faith to overcome anything. Let’s learn together how to develop a resilient faith that turns setbacks into comebacks and obstacles into opportunities.
Be a builder, not a storm chaser
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
It’s easier for me to chase the storms of life than it is to evaluate how or what I am building. A storm is something that is challenging and disruptive to our lives, and can lead to emotional tumult. Think health, kids, marriage, emotions…all of these areas are essentially out of our control, and can weigh heavy on us if something goes awry.
Storm chasers follow behind storms for a variety of reasons – some are thrill-seekers, some are meteorologists studying weather patterns. In the context of Matthew 7, we’ll define a storm chaser simply as someone who lives in constant reaction to the next storm of life.
A builder, on the other hand, tries to get ahead of storms. Builders spend their time and energy on ensuring that their foundation is as solid as it needs to be in order to stand firm during the storms of life. Being a builder means examining how aligned your life is with the Bible.
Storm chasers focus on:
- Emotions – how do I mitigate my feelings?
- Circumstances – how do I make my life as smooth as possible?
- People – how do I make sure people like me?
- Responsive – understand how God is helping me to adapt
- Learners – understand how God is calling me to grow
- God focused – understanding God is in control, so I don’t have to worry
A builder is resilient because they have worked to build a solid foundation; their faith in God remains intact even when it’s battered by wind, rain, and floods. Let’s assess how we are building and make the choice to build on the solid foundation.
- Do you think you are a storm chaser or a builder? Why?
- When you go through storms, do you tend to focus most on people, circumstances, your own emotions, or understanding how God is calling you to grow?
- How can you start practicing thinking like a builder today?
Be a learner, not a quitter
5 And have you forgotten his encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when he has to correct you. 6 For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child.”Hebrews 12:5-6 TPT
When our faith is tested, scripture teaches us that we respond in one of three ways:
- Underestimating – we diminish and ignore the value of discipline by minimizing, rationalizing or justifying our actions. Essentially, we refuse to change.
- Get depressed – We quit by going through the motions, by being angry or by blaming.
- Learn – We embrace God’s training by facing facts, taking responsibility and changing
Being a learner allows us to build resiliency by facing life challenges with a faithful attitude, instead of getting angry, hard-hearted or depressed.
Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.Hebrews 12:11 TPT
In my pride, I can see learning as a failure as opposed to an opportunity for growth and change. In order to have a transformation of faith and character, we must change our attitude about learning.
- Do you see learning as a pain or pleasure?
- How are you responding to God’s training in your life?
- How does your view of God need to change in order to embrace his training?
Be prayerful through failure
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)
Failure is only fatal when it is absent of faith. After Peter experienced spiritual failure, Jesus encourages him. It’s one of many stories of resilience in the Bible that give us a blueprint for handling discouragement and setbacks today.
Three things we learn from this scripture:
- We are fighting a spiritual battle and the fight is for our faith. It’s all too easy to focus on our life conditions or how we feel about the people around us, all the while forgetting that Satan is constantly trying to steal our faith.
- Prayer is how we keep and strengthen our faith. We can spend a lot of time thinking, talking and feeling instead of praying to God. Prayer strengthens our faith.
- When we change, we help others to change. We can use everything we go through to help strengthen others.
Faith is what gives us the ability to take anything in life, including our humbling failures, and turn them into experiences that drive us to love others. Prayer helps keep us focused on God throughout this process, so we don’t get stuck in the weeds about how we feel. It is how we rely on God for the strength and resilience needed to learn from our failures and change.
- How is Satan trying to steal your faith?
- Are you feeling, thinking and talking more than praying to God for help?
- Whose faith can you strengthen and inspire based on the lessons you have learned through failure?
The following passages describe several ways for your to develop real faith and spiritual resilience. Take time today to consider how you can make a real comeback by tackling these issues.