In the Old Testament, we learn about a young man named Joseph who, from the beginning, was thrown into a series of challenges that would discourage most people. As the favorite son of a wealthy landowner, Joseph’s long road to success began the hard way: abruptly kidnapped and orphaned into slavery. For the next several decades, Joseph would not see his family or fully understand the series of challenging events that defined his life. Ultimately, with God watching over every tough step, he prevailed and through it all, acquired resilience.
Resilience is a quality born of struggle, work, and sometimes, defeat. A runner doesn’t enter a 5 mile race without first building up lung capacity and the muscles to effectively run that distance. The same is true of our emotional maturity and spiritual growth. Practicing spiritual disciplines (prayer, meditation, fasting) along with challenging life experiences strengthens our core and equips us for the next level. This produces resiliency which is our ability to withstand increased pressure and more complex challenges. Joseph would eventually become Prime Minister of Egypt but not without the requisite journey of ups and downs.
For all of us, we must first have a foundation of values, self-awareness, and a loving community, but beyond that, we must be ready to navigate what comes our way. As we experience new levels of intensity like the loss of a job, a difficult relocation, or the discovery of disease with someone we love, we are maturing through the chaos.
But here is the catch: these challenges, however difficult, are the path to great peace and strength. It’s never easy, but resiliency means we are growing and exercising mental and emotional muscles that lead to maturity. We become stronger, and this puts us in a position to endure more, serve more, and become the instrument for righteousness that inspires and helps others. (Romans 6:13)
My daily work puts me in the company of incredible children. Most of them have been wounded by neglect or abandonment. Some have experienced much worse. My heart is constantly touched by the fact that despite having seen some of the worst aspects of human behavior, they process their past, overcome obstacles, and move forward to accomplish amazing things. At an early age, they become resilient. Over time, in the right community, with trusted love, and increased awareness that there is a Heavenly Father who cares about their story, these children move forward.
We can do this, too!
With the challenges that come our way – the loss of a job, a discouraging diagnosis, or the heartbreak of relationships, it’s easy to forget that this is the course to growth and peace. We have the tools! We have families, a faith community, and just like Joseph, we know that God is watching over our path. All that remains is our willingness to step forward in faith and trust that God is bringing us to new levels.
Easier said than done! But, seeing the world this way, and believing that God knows all about “my” experience, I can become stronger, I can do more, and I can overcome.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians… “I have learned, in any situation, to be content”. That didn’t just happen, and it didn’t come naturally. He learned, one progressive trial after the next, to be content. He gradually became more resilient, overcame impossible difficulties, and emerged victorious. With God’s grace and help, we can too.
Drake Bassett, CEO of Palmer Home for Children, combines his executive experiences with his passion for serving children in need.