It’s summer! And this blog post begins a summer-long devotional series on resilience – what it means and how being resilient, or not, impacts our capacity to live strong and steady, giving our all.

Let’s start with some definitions.

What is resilience?

There are two definitions of resilience. The first is the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. It’s also defined as the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. Resiliency is about bouncing back from stress and setbacks, being able to work through challenges and overcome obstacles.

Australia psychologist Andrew Fuller defines resilience as “the happy knack of being able to bungee jump through the pitfalls of life.”There are tens of thousands of articles on resilience available online.There are hundreds of online courses you may take on how to become resilient . . . how to minimize the degree of stretching you’ll endure when adversity and challenges threaten to pull you apart.

So resilience is like those elastic bands wrapped around the flyers Canada Post drops every week. They stretch around fairly large amounts of paper. And when you take them off those flyers, the band bounces back to its original shape. The thing is though: When you stretch an elastic band beyond its capacity, it will snap. So could we.

Perhaps we need

another image

with which to talk about and understand

what resilience is truly about.

On the blog, the author writes about how she explained the concept of resilience to her young son. She and her son talked about a small plant he’d found and how that plant would never survive a big storm. They then walked up to a tree. Her son figured out that the tree would not get damaged by that big storm the way the small plant would.She then asked him which he would choose to be in a storm: the plant or the tree. Of course, he chose the tree because it was stronger.

She writes: “I explained that people are like plants and trees, and we can actually choose how strong we grow . . . We can choose to grow our roots deep in the earth to make us sturdy and strong. We can choose to be a small plant or a sturdy tree. . . . A tree is resilient because of its ability to withstand challenges and grow despite the weather behind it.”

In Psalm 1: 1-3 (NLT), we read “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”

These key verses give us a central image – the tree. The tree is a picture of who we are and how we are to live. It’s a picture of resilience. And it’s a picture for ministry and mission.

How do we move from being that elastic band, stretched and twisted and stretched again . . . to being that tree whose leaves never wither? (Hint: Next week we’ll talk about roots and soil.)
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