What is resilient faith?
Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt successfully to challenges that potentially threaten our function and survival. We all experience those difficult days that test our strength and patience, but resilient faith is needed when those life impacting, life changing, events occur.
In our Western society faith, so often, is an easy choice. We have the freedom to go to church, to read our Bibles, and to talk about our faith without fear of recrimination. But what happens if our comfortable world is shaken in some way? What happens when our choices are restricted or reduced? Will our faith remain steadfast?
“Faith is not just about what we know, but in trusting in what we don’t know. Unless we acknowledge that tension, we will never stand firm when second choices threaten to unsettle us.” Jeff Lucas
Resilient faith is based on the knowledge and experience of a steadfast, true and unchanging God. When we live out our lives depending, not on the strength of our faith but on His faithfulness.
Three Ways to Build Resilient Faith
Acceptance of God’s Sovereignty
Resilient faith flourishes not because of the circumstances that we are in, but despite the circumstances. The acceptance which changes the ‘if God blesses, I will worship Him’ to ‘though I do not understand, yet will I worship.’
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”HABAKKUK 3:17-18
This is a beautifully poetic passage from Habakkuk. And reflects one of the greatest declarations of faith in Scripture. The decision to worship God for who He is, our Lord and Saviour and to accept His Sovereignty. When we are willing to submit our will to the Lord and trust in Him through our trials we can find peace of mind in daily life. A strength that develops through focusing, on the eternal rather than the temporal, and trusting in the love of the Lord.
Choose our attitude
We build spiritual resilience when we cultivate gratitude. When we are thankful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we have left behind or on what we feel we are missing.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”1 Thessalonians 5:18
We are resilient when we choose to live in the present. When we are willing to adapt and learn from the situation we are in, even when it is not to our choosing. Last year brought challenges with the restrictions that were placed on corporate worship. We then had a choice in how we responded. Were we willing to actively find other ways to connect and worship together. Or would we cling to what we had before, and miss out on a new experience in the present.
Walk humbly with God
We accept God’s Sovereignty and give thanks in all circumstances when we maintain the integrity of our faith. To walk humbly with God, reflects our dependence on Him and prayer is the key. Engaging constantly in conversation with God, for ‘pray continually’ comes before ‘give thanks in all circumstances.’ We bring our prayers and petitions to God, we talk with Him and listen for His direction and guidance and receive the strength that we need. God’s grace is sufficient and as we are inspired by His grace we are not intimidated by our circumstances!
Habakkuk completes his prayer, his declaration of faith with the confidence, that with the Lord we can rise above our circumstances:
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”Habakkuk 3:19
Resilient Faith demonstrated in the Bible
Scripture is full of examples of those who demonstrated resilient faith in their lives, such as Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Peter, Paul, and John…. Those who through immense trials and difficulties showed that we can, not only survive but, thrive where we are planted. For we are all, to a certain extent, ‘exiles’ on earth when our citizenship is in heaven.
In his book “Singing in Babylon – Finding purpose in Life’s Second Choices” Jeff Lucas explores and develops the theme of second choice lives.
Life is never perfect. As Christians we need to move on from the myth that following Jesus will always give us what we want, our first choice. And that second choices are those situations, very real and painful, that we find ourselves in which we never would have chosen.
“Even in chaos, God has a plan and purpose. He works with the found and seeks the lost.” Jeff Lucas
The book focuses on Daniel and his friends and their lifelong exile in Babylon. The author skillfully interweaves their experiences with relevant application for our lives today. The godly principles that Daniel and his friends displayed while living out their lives in exile, brings a challenging message. When all apparent choices had been forcibly taken from them, they resolved to live their lives in worship to God, even when in a strange land.
We too can build resilience into our faith, when we trust in God through the unfamiliar and unknown. And we may find, just like Daniel, that the place of suffering can be a place of refinement and growth, where we develop a resilient faith.