The Key to Resilience

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Sometimes we go through rough patches. The job doesn’t pan out the way you had hoped. Your best friend lets you down. The car you were relying on blows its transmission. Your physical health takes a bad turn. Spiritually, you just seem to be stuck. You feel weary, discouraged, maybe even despondent. We’ve all been there. You may be there right now. What can you do when that happens?

How can you keep going when your “get up and go” seems to have got up and went?

Times like these are when we find out how resilient we are. One dictionary defines resilience as the “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like.” We all need resilience. But where does it come from, and how do we cultivate it?

The writer of the book of Hebrews offers some enduring advice for Christ followers who find themselves wearied by the inevitable hardships of this life. After reviewing an impressive array of ordinary God-fearing people who displayed extraordinary resilience, the writer then comes to the timeless key to resilience in chapter twelve.

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
— Hebrews 12:1-3

Notice the exhortation to run with perseverance (which implies resilience) is followed immediately by the means for doing so: by fixing our eyes on Jesus. So how does one fix their eyes on Jesus? The passage offers at least three practical helps for the weary sojourner.

First, REFLECT on how, for millennia, ordinary people have accomplished extraordinary feats of resilience by trusting God and his coming Messiah (see 11:26). Let their experience inspire you to keep trusting Christ as well. After all, he’s “the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8).

Second, REJECT those things that bog you down. It may be escapist behaviors, lies you choose to believe about yourself and God, or just plain old disbelief in God’s faithfulness. We can’t afford any of this dead weight. We have a heavenly race to run. Throw that stuff off immediately. You’ll feel lighter, and you’ll find your spiritual stamina returning.

Third, REMIND yourself of the one you’re running to. The thought of meeting you at the finish line gave Jesus such joy that he willingly endured death on a cross to make it possible. He blazed a trail for us, showing us how to live by faith. And if Jesus endured such opposition and still emerged victorious, then we’re destined for the same, if his Spirit lives in us.

Brothers and sisters, resilience is ours in Christ. Let’s fix our eyes on him. He’s the key.