Recently, I was a panel member for a Valor San Diego event. The topic of conversation was “spiritual resilience” – what is it? How do we get it? Why is it important? I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading Scripture in order to prepare for this panel discussion. I initially had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to say… I think my roadblock was that in the military, we are taught what attributes we must work to obtain in order to be effective military leaders – confident, strong communicator, decisive, and fair. As a college student, we are told that we must develop skills of self-discipline, good study habits, and effective communication in order to get good grades.
The world bombards us with ADJECTIVES and ATTRIBUTES that we must work to ACHIEVE so that we may succeed in the different areas of life.
I am so happy to share that “spiritual resilience” is not another attribute that you must obtain! Instead, spiritual resilience is the beautiful bi-product of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
My definition of “spiritual resilience” is faith that withstands the test of time, through ALL circumstances.
Paul displays spiritual resilience as he writes, from prison, to the church in Philippi – “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for 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. I can do all thinks through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-13
Spiritually resilience is achieved only through a live lived by faith in Christ. Jesus was there for the creation of the world, and he will be there at the end of the world as we know it – he is the most transcendent and undeterred force that exists.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 – These verses are so encouraging to me! If we have faith in Jesus Christ, then God’s power will guard us and ensure that we endure until the last time when we will receive our heavenly inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading! We are not asked to endure through our own power but through GOD’S POWER!!
In order for God’s power to guard us for salvation which will allow us to receive this eternal inheritance, we must have faith! We must have faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Practically, this means that we must build our life on a foundation of Christ. Everything that we do or say should be done within the framework of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or upon the foundation of Jesus Christ –
Jesus said: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27
Unfortunately, I think it can be really tough to build our life on the foundation of Christ, especially for folks in the military. We are trained to be mentally and physically tough and to withstand great challenges through our own will-power. We can easily develop an inflated sense of self. The internal monsters of pride and self-importance are fed – I say this all from my own personal experience.
I think this pride is the greatest barrier along the path towards spiritual resilience. We spend so much time focusing on our building materials and making sure that we are prepared to withstand any storm that we neglect our faith and therefore build our home on a foundation of sand.
Ironically, spiritual toughness and resilience are only found in admitting our weakness and letting Jesus’ strength sustain us. We must learn dependence on Jesus in every area of our life! While “weakness” may be thought of as a negative attribute in other areas of our life, there is great freedom in admitting our spiritual weakness! God loves us in our weakness. Jesus can use us for his ministry in our weakness. We can come to Jesus as we are, confessing our sin and trusting that Jesus atoned for our failures through his death on the cross. We can show Jesus the real us – he knows the real us anyways and yet he still chose to love us. We can cling to the sweet truths of the Gospel:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17
God sent his son, Jesus, into the world not to condemn us, but to save us! This is the Gospel message.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an invitation to a personal relationship with Jesus, the most resilient and transcendent man to ever walk the Earth. Brothers and sisters, I encourage us all to no longer labor in vain, building a mighty house on a foundation of sand. Instead, let us all put down our building tools, and sit at the feet of Jesus; only Jesus can ensure that our toil under the sun is not done in vain. He is our firm foundation!
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1