- 2016Sep 22
I looked up the word resilience a few weeks ago. I was preparing for a speaking engagement I had coming up on the topic, and this is what I found:
noun | re·sil·ience | \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\
: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
Resilience is often prized. I'd venture to say that every one of us would like to be resilient. But what if we could be more than resilient?
I must admit I was a bit disappointed with this definition. I had honestly thought resilience was something greater than this. The moment I read this definition, I found myself challenging the notion that we're to become strong again or healthy again or successful again when something bad happens. I began challenging the thought that there's value to returning to our "original shape."
I mean, after all, where's the meaning and purpose of our trials if they don't induce change?
What if, when something bad happens, we were never intended to return to our original shape? What if the very thing we thought would destroy us is the thing intended to strengthen us and allow us to live more fully? To become stronger than ever before?
There was a time when I thought it was not possible to see good come out of my past. But I was proven wrong.
Years after my dad's murder, I sat around a table with some family members telling them all God had done in and through my life, hoping they'd want to receive the same healing I had. I told them about how I had wrestled and wrestled with what had happened to my dad after he died. I told them about all the happy masks I forced myself to put on year after year, and how many years later, I finally reached a point when I was emotionally unable to put on even one more. I told them about the anxiety and depression that ensued and how hopeless I became. I told them about the desperation I felt as the darkness closed in on me but that in that moment the light of God shone into my heart and soul like never before. I told them just how good the good news of the gospel was to me in that moment. That I was saved, plucked from the fire, as I cried out to Jesus. I told them about Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, and how I had forgiven him. And finally, I told them that I was healed, finally healed, because of what Jesus had done in and through me.
They sat, mostly silent as I spoke. Listening.
Then my aunt said, "Laurie I'm glad you've finally come to a good place again."
I didn't have a chance to respond to her before her son said, "No Mom. Laurie isn't saying she's finally come to a good place again. She's saying she's better than she's ever been before. Even before Uncle Rick died. Right?" He looked to me for confirmation.
I nodded my head. That's exactly right, I thought, with tears in my eyes.
He got it.
You see, Jesus had not returned me to my original shape. He had fashioned me altogether different. New.
Over and over again, I have seen Jesus use every bit of my pain. Though I would absolutely love to have my dad in my life right now, I can say with absolute certainty that my pain has made me better. And so will yours, if you allow Jesus to use it.
We need something greater than resilience. Something altogether new.
Any thoughts? Share in the comments.
- 2015Dec 17
Jesus is on the throne, now and forever. It seems I've been reminded of this continually lately. Life's circumstances have clouded my vision a bit, but with this simple reminder, I have consistently been brought back to the truth.
Troubles lose their weight when we see and believe this reality deep within our souls. This truth gives us a heavenly perspective on the circumstances we face and allows us the ability to endure trials with confident assurance that our God is in control.
Now, I cannot pretend to know all the reasons why God allows difficulties into our lives, but when confronted with them, I often think about what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. He said, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need" (Philippians 4:11b-12, emphasis mine). Did you catch that? Paul learned how to be content. He learned how to face every circumstance thrown at him. Quite simply, we are not born with a propensity toward contentment, nor do we naturally face trials with joy, but we can learn to do so.
Elsewhere, Paul says, "I rejoice in my sufferings" (Colossians 1:24). James, the brother of Jesus, echoed Paul's sentiments when he said, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:2-3). Trials are not meant to destroy us but are intended to test and discipline and strengthen and purify us.
We know that our God is good and faithful. We know God is sovereign and in control of all things. We know we are loved by God with a love that is far beyond comprehension. And we also know that it would be inconsistent with God's character for Him to allow difficulty into His children's lives that He did not intend for good. Our loving Father is not out to hurt us, but to mold us into the image of His Son, for our good and His glory.
James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him." During certain seasons of life, it can feel like we're made to endure one storm after another, but when this happens, we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus, "who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven," is not only with us in our battles but is fighting for us (Hebrews 8:1, Matthew 28:20, 2 Chronicles 20:17).
Right after Paul wrote about learning how to endure all things well, he said, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). This is the key, my friend. To live in complete and total dependance on Jesus––our Lord, our Savior, our Shepherd, our Counselor, our Prince of Peace, our Intercessor, our Advocate, our High Priest, our everything. May both you and I keep our eyes fixed on Him.
"To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!"
- Psalm 123:1
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
- Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis mine
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
- Hebrews 4:15-16, emphasis mine
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
- 1 Peter 5:6-11, emphasis mine
- 2015Dec 10
All of life should be viewed through the lens of the Gospel. A lens colored by who God is and who we are in light of Him. It's a top-down approach, one largely neglected by many of us who choose instead to see life and the world from our own vantage point. In this bottom-up approach, we falsely define God, our circumstances, and the world in light of who we are. We allow our views to subjectively contaminate how we see life and our Creator.
It's easy to do. It's easy to choose the wrong lens––to see God and our lives through the lens of suffering or the lens of betrayal or the lens of sickness or the lens of loss or the lens of discouragement. And it's certainly easy to allow our feelings to color what we see, but ultimately, if we choose any lens but the Gospel lens we pick up distortions and grossly misinterpret just about every part of life.
Truth is what we seek. Not our truth, not someone else's, but God's. He is the one who defines life and gives truth, not us.
J.I. Packer said, "Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord.” Brother Lawrence wrote, "Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”
True understanding, and perseverance through life's storms, comes with knowing God. In knowing who He is and how He sees us. Now, of course we will never be able to mine the depths of who God is, but committing ourselves to a life-long pursuit to grow in the knowledge of God is something that will yield unimaginable fruit. It's something we will never regret doing.