This is the final part of a series on enduring through suffering by building resilience.
Click here to read the article in its entirety.
Part 1 – Enduring Well: Four Ways to Build Resilience
Part 2 – Enduring Well: Identity in Christ
Part 3 – Enduring Well: True Perspective
Part 4 – Enduring Well: Faith
In response to a negative situation, the lie says, “I can’t do anything about this.” In contrast, the truth says, “I may not be able to change everything, but here’s what I can do about this.” Even if it’s only a small thing at the time, internally taking responsibility, rather than simply resigning in despair, is the path of healthy thinking.
Perhaps the very first thing you can do is to bless and do good to those who may be creating the stress for you.
… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:27-31)
Don’t be passive. Don’t withdraw. Take responsibility. Act. Move ahead in some way.
Avoiding responsibility in the face of stress and difficult is unhealthy. People try to escape pressure in many ways through drugs, alcohol, immorality, entertainment, work, or even shopping. These are all ways of avoiding responsibility in the face of pressure. Instead of taking personal responsibility to do what we can, we escape into the fog of avoidance.
Don’t use the negative situation around you as an excuse for sin or spiritual laziness! Take responsibility. You may not be able to do much but what can you do?
Identify specific ways in which you have tried to escape from responsibility in the past. What did you do? What were the results? Be accountable to a trusted friend in this area going forward. Give them permission to ask you about it on a regular basis.
Often, Christians give up far too easily! Yet even apart from Christ, people can endure a great deal. The Navy SEALS have a “Forty Percent Rule.” This refers to when you hit a point of stress or exhaustion beyond which you think you cannot go. The SEALS say that when your mind is telling you you’re finished, you’re really only 40 percent finished! Even in your own human strength you have resources far beyond what you realize.
How much more can we endure when we are in Christ, with the eternal hope that we have, with the presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit in our hearts? How much more…?
Paul speaks of this point of exhaustion in 2 Corinthians:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:8-11)
Paul was under so much stress and faced so much imminent danger that, in his own strength, he was at the point of collapse.
But he didn’t collapse! Instead, inwardly, he looked at God and, by God’s grace, Paul found new strength and even deliverance from destruction.
Don’t be like the second kind of seed in the Parable of Sower (Matt. 13:1-23) that fell away because of trouble!
In Acts, the consistent habit of the early church was to respond to adversity with responsible action. They never backed down because of intimidation, fear or discouragement.
In Acts 4, they were commanded to stop preaching the Gospel, and yet they responded with even more boldness in prayer:
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30)
In Acts 5, the leaders were arrested and threatened. In response, they replied, “We must obey God rather than men!” (v. 29). Even after they were flogged and threatened with execution, their response was this:
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. (Acts 5:41-42)
In Acts 6-7, Stephen was falsely accused and then stoned to death. In response, he committed himself to God and forgave his enemies. He couldn’t change his circumstances but he took responsibility to serve God in the midst of it.
In Acts 8, the church was severely persecuted. In response, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (v. 4).
The early church never backed down. Even when their strength was little, they kept moving ahead. They trusted God and did whatever they could do to serve Him.
So fight! Don’t give up. Even when it looks bad, God is still with you. Take responsibility. Move ahead! Even if you can’t move fast, just move! If you can run, then run. If you can only walk, then walk. If you can only crawl, then crawl. But move! Move ahead!
Those who grow in all four areas internally will be able to respond well to the adversity they experience.
In reality, everyone will experience many sufferings over their lifetime. The majority of people will be harmed by those sufferings. But, if you respond well, your adversity will work for you and not against you:
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Cor. 4:17)
You may have failed in the past but today is a new day. You can do it differently going forward. You can grow. You can change. Start now!
These are the four critical areas of enduring well:
|Identity in Christ
||I have failed. I am a failure.
||I have failed. But I am in Christ and, by His grace, I will overcome!
||What just happened is huge. It is the end of the world. Things are hopeless!
||What just happened is bad but, in reality, it’s only a small thing. It’s not the end of the world. And, from the perspective of eternity, it’s nothing!
||This bad thing will never change and will only get worse.
||God can do all things. There is nothing too hard for Him!
||I can’t do anything about this.
||I may not be able to change everything, but here’s what I can do about this.
If you do well in these four internal habits, you will do well in life!