But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
~2 Corinthians 4: 7-10
We are in a time in human history when resilience is needed. Children learn resilience through parents, teachers, coaches and mentors, but if one has not learned resilience as a child, Christian counselors have some ideas how we can grow in resilience.
Resilience is the capacity to recover from life’s difficulties. It allows us to move forward from illness, accident, poverty, anxiety, depression, etc. Christians are a resilient people. We look to the Old Testament stories, and see how the people of God faced hardships and adversities of every kind. And God was not only helped people to bounce back from those trials, but to actually grow and learn from them. To become resilient. As we grow in our resilience, we give glory to God whose grace and power works in us to bring about the growth, renewal, and transformation.
The Bellevue Christian Counseling Center (Washington State, USA) offers these suggestions for growing in resilience, which at this time in our collective human experience can be helpful and life-giving.
- Think positive thoughts.Our thoughts directly impact our feelings and behaviors. Negative thoughts are like poisons that make us feel awful about our situation. But when we have positive thoughts, we experience more positive emotions and see more possibilities in the middle of our difficult life circumstances.
- Embrace change. Jesus promised that we will experience trouble and hardship (John 16:33). By accepting difficulties and anticipating change, we will be more prepared for it when it occurs. Believe it or not, change is good and sometime necessary. Embrace it.
- Establish realistic goals. What you resist persists, so don’t ignore the difficulties of life. Instead, look at them accurately, figure out what you can do, define realistic goals for yourself, and then get to work.
- Learn from past experiences. Reflect on past hardships with honesty. Look at what worked and what didn’t work and see failure as a helpful form of feedback. Get rid of what didn’t work and keep doing the things that helped you.
- Make it meaningful. Finding meaning during difficult times is essential as humans are wired for meaning and purpose. When we find meaning we find a reason to continue on. We can create meaning by finding ways to give to others, by being thankful for what we have, and by changing our attitude about our circumstances.
- Connect with others. Resilience does not mean toughing it out alone or being stoic in isolation. Instead it involves being able to reach out to others for support. A support system is essential because these relationships will provide you with necessary support and acceptance during difficult times. You can build your support network by connecting with others in communities such as church, school, neighborhood, and family.
- Practice self-care. Self-care is essential to preventing and reducing stress and enhances your well-being. Be aware of your physical, psychological, and emotional needs. Find healthy ways to meet those needs with exercise, rest, relaxation, and healthy eating habits.
- Look to Jesus. Keep your perspective on the faithfulness of God. God promises to supply all of our needs. In times of anxiety, stress, and hardship, keep in mind that God is faithful to help.
God of resurrection hope, you strengthen us and help us to grow in our resilience. We need your saving help again in this time of Covid-19. We are being stretched and challenged. Nurture and guide us by your love and grace to accept what we cannot change and to adapt to and even find meaning through this current situation. We thank you that you transform us and all creation by your saving love and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.