Resilience or NAH!
Resilience. Grit. Resolve. Courage. Boldness. Faithfulness. Obedience.
These are all words that I strive for when pursuing God’s life for me and the qualities I desire in the most tumultuous times. These words probably describe what most people long to have in this life, but we must raise the question: are we willing to allow them to be developed in our lives? The Bible is littered with stories of men and women just like you and me that were faced with defining moments that forged these character qualities in their spirits as they charged toward the purposes that God had for them. One of the most popular Sunday school stories of all time involves either bowing to a false god or being thrown into a fiery furnace. The story is excellent and the young men’s faithfulness was powerful, but their response is what is so outstanding to me.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18 NLT
But even if he doesn’t! Are you kidding me? That is such an intense statement. It is easy to have so-called faith if you have a guaranteed result, but to trust when there are no guarantees is another level of belief entirely. That is resilience, grit, and all those qualities we strive to achieve. Jonathan said a similar thing as he and his unarmed armor-bearer charged at the Philistine army.
“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor-bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” 1 Samuel 14:6 NLT
PERHAPS! If I am that armor-bearer who doesn’t have a sword, I will need a little more reassurance than that. However, the “perhaps” and the “if” was enough. How was that? Maybe it was because their hope was tied somewhere other than this world, and maybe they realized the challenges and trials of this world had nothing on the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth!
However, I am going to be completely transparent with you. When the furnaces of trials come and the armies of challenges charge my way, my responses are not always as heroic. Many times instead of responding with resilience, I instead respond with complaints. I grumble and get frustrated at the furnace moments in my life. I get angry and even sometimes resent the challenges that come my way. I do not seek God in prayer; I seek someone close to me to complain about it. I know you are entirely blindsided that a pastor is not acting all reverend like, but it is the truth. In these moments, I miss some of the most significant growth in my life. While still trying to cling to a semblance of control, I make myself the savior and hold on to the securities of this world as if it is my heaven. My sinful side wants me to put all my stock into the things that I can see and adopt a temporary mindset. My flesh wants me to believe the only miracles that I will experience are the ones I muster up in the rational. However, God is trying to refine that sin out of my life and forge a life that is dependent on Him. His desire is that I walk in so much courage and resolve that whatever trials come my way, I can scream “perhaps” and “if’ because those affiliations are nothing compared to the Glory that God will produce in me!
This is why Peter could say that we should find joy in our trials because as we remain in the faith, these trials purify our hearts like fire purifies gold. Listen to me. There is so much fulfillment and purpose found in the design that God has for your life. Still, you will never fully experience that until you learn to lean into God instead of complaining about every trial you experience. I know 2020 may feel as if the whole year has been a fiery furnace and everywhere we turn it feels like we are charging an army unarmed, but you are not alone. There is a God bigger than this world that wants to do the miraculous in and through you! Let’s press into His presence as we pray first, devour the word of God, stand on the promises of God, and fix our gaze on the eternity that is waiting for us in His presence!
‘That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.’ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT