Research in neuroscience indicates that we can build resilience (the ability to bounce back or recover from hardships and difficulties) in our brain. Science also indicates that we have a bent toward negative thinking and negativity (negativity bias) when faced with difficulties, obstacles, and challenges in life. So, how do we reconcile the two? The Bible speaks to this perpetual and ongoing internal conflict (Romans 7:15-23) and encourages us to side against ourselves and pessimism as we allow the word of God to steer us in the direction of positivity, hope, and optimism in our journey. This is the cornerstone of faith; the unwavering belief that even in the face of adversity, we believe that we will triumph through it. It is the belief that the difficulty will soon be in our rearview mirror as we travel forward and make inroads in the journey of life. It is the bold and audacious move to envision ourselves on the other side of the presenting problem.
Each of our stories is deeply personal as we all have different traumatic experiences and hardships. However, we are all given the same opportunity to choose resilience. Although trials of life are inevitable, anchoring our faith in the truth that all things are working together for good and that there will be beauty for ashes is a volitional decision each believer has the opportunity to make. And, the understanding that in the midst of unspeakable hardships and turmoil, we are not alone as Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even in the darkest, most abysmal places, He is with us (Psalm 23). Not only is He with us, He is ever mindful of our emotional state. He knows our fears, anxieties, and worries--even those we cannot articulate or feel uncomfortable uttering. As such, he does not leave us in a place of deficit. He endows us with his peace that passes all understanding, blesses us with comfort, grace, and strength thereby enabling us to embrace our capacity for victory and believe that it is within reach. We are called to thrive and the ability to do so lies in our willful decision to believe that thriving is attainable, no matter what the circumstances may be when we courageously opt to take a 1000-volt risk and view the challenges of life through the lens of the Spirit.
Biblical Ways to Build Resilience
- Develop a personal relationship with God through regular contemplative prayer, praise, worship, and study/meditation on His word (James 4:8). This is the key pillar to living a life of joy, peace, satisfaction, and resilience. By cultivating a personal relationship with God we learn more about him and in turn more about ourselves.
- Purpose to be a person of hope, making the volitional decision to pursue resilience over despair (Lamentations 3:21-23).
- Decide to be an overcomer (Romans 8:37). In life we will experience hardships, struggles, and difficult times, but we have the ability to overcome through the power of Christ in endowed in each of us.
- Keep things in perspective. Nothing is impossible or too hard for God. In him, we find solutions, gain wisdom and understanding, and develop the divine ability to view challenges through the lens of faith (Jeremiah 32:27).
- Take time to laugh and find enjoyment in life. Savor these times, be mindful of them (Proverbs 17:22)
- Surround yourself with positive people (Psalm 133). It is no secret that toxic people can be emotionally draining. Pessimism and negativity do not foster an atmosphere of faith, hope, peace, or joy.
- Keep moving forward. Set realistic goals and move toward them (Philippians 4:13)
- Have a forward focus. God has given us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Be deliberate and unapologetic about practicing self-care (Mark 1:35). Even as Jesus ministered, taught, and healed multitudes of people He took time to find a "solitary place". This was important and valuable to Him. We can glean from His example.
- Cultivate mutually satisfying relationships with others--accept help from others and offer assistance to others (Hebrews 10:24-25)