There is no way to get away from trouble in this world. Sometimes things happen that we cannot prevent. Sometimes we have an inkling of what may be coming, but nothing can truly prepare you for the overwhelming waves of pain or anger or grief or exhaustion that will hit you when it comes.
That’s why you need to develop spiritual resilience now.
Looking back over the past few months of my husband’s illness and his death only days ago, I know I would have coped much worse if I had not previously invested in my relationship with God over a long period of time. When fatigue or emotions or stress builds up what’s deep in your soul is what comes out.
I hope your trauma is not as painful as mine. But whatever it is, you will need some inner reserves to make it through. One day you will face one or more of these troubles, if you haven’t already:
- Your child, parent, or spouse will die
- You will be the caretaker of a parent, child, or spouse with an ongoing serious illness
- Your source of income will suddenly (or not so suddenly) disappear
- You will hear a doctor’s report that gives you a devastating diagnosis
- Your marriage will fail – perhaps through no fault of your own
- Your own actions will cause someone close to you unbelievable pain – and you unbelievable guilt
- Someone close to you will betray you
- You will be a victim of violence – perhaps in your own home
I learned a long time ago that there is no valid way to measure or compare pain. Pain is pain. It feels as bad as it feels. That event or loss or trauma can tear you at the very core of who you are. Your identity, your outlook on the world, your belief in other people, your trust in God will be shaken.
And if you have not invested in your character, your spiritual inner self, that shaking may well uproot the tree of your soul and threaten everything about your future.
Developing spiritual resilience does not mean you will not feel pain. You will still be shaken. You will still be changed by the pain this world brings.
But spiritual resilience will provide you with roots that reach the wells deep within your soul where you can connect with the only source of living water. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)
Though shaken, you will not fall. Though dry, you will not wither and die. Though you may cry out from your place of pain, as David did many times in the Psalms, you will not lose your integrity. You will be able to allow God to use that pain to mature you even further, and become even more nourishing for those who are hungry and even more useful for His kingdom.
How to Develop Spiritual Resilience
As with a tall tree that grows roots deep into dry soil to find the life-giving water, your own roots do not grow in a day. When trouble comes God is available to you whether you have deep roots or not. But you will come through those storms differently if you invest now in developing those deep roots. That’s the only way to develop spiritual resilience.
I know these factors have been important in my own spiritual resilience, and they can be for you too.
- Read God’s Word. That may sound trite, but it’s not. When I returned from the hospital after my husband’s death, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to read 1 Corinthians 15. Yes, I cried. But I knew where to go because of all the years I had spent reading God’s word over and over again in the past. And I’m not talking about head knowledge. Read as though your life depended on it, because it does. Read for spiritual nourishment as one who is starving, because without Him you are.
- Develop a Prayer Life. When you are in trouble, you don’t go for help to the coworker you ride the elevator with every day. You don’t know them. Instead, you go to a friend or family member who understands you. It’s the same with God. The way to develop that relationship with Him is through prayer. Talk to Him about everything – today, before things get bad. Ask Him to talk back to you, and spend lots of time listening. Tell Him about what you’re thinking, what you’re worried about, what your hopes and dreams are. Get to know His voice; it takes time.
- Go Through Stuff With God. Invite God into all the “little” troubles you face all the time. You’ll learn to see Him as trustworthy in the “small” things, which will allow you to trust Him when something big comes along. Work through everything together with God: losing weight, choosing a job, how to manage your money, people problems, your child’s bad behavior, communicating with your spouse, guilt over a “minor” mistake. Give Him permission to stretch you, grow you, and love you. The more experiences you go through with God, the more natural it will be to invite Him into the big stuff.
If you’re already in the middle of something traumatic – betrayal by someone close, a loved one’s death, financial collapse, a serious illness – know that God is still with you. He loves you whether you choose to believe it or not. His shoulders are the only ones big enough to carry your problem. Invite Him in right now.
And if you’re not in the middle of something traumatic right now, know that without a doubt that time will come. And it may come when you least expect it. Spending time now in allowing your spiritual roots to grow deep will develop the spiritual resilience you will so appreciate when that time comes.
The tears or the stress or the pain will still be there. But you’ll be able to say, “I know Him. And I trust Him – even in this.”
Your Turn: How spiritually resilient do you think you are? Have your spiritual roots been tested? How did you fare? Leave a comment below.
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