Life is hard sometimes.
We all have encountered people in our lives who have gone through a really bad situation and handled it in an incredible way. We are amazed at their ability to be at peace in the midst of what they are going through. Amazed at their ability to smile or to encourage others as they themselves walk through this trial. People who have lost a child, fought cancer, suffered great loss and yet there is something about the way they handle it which amazes us. What sets them apart?
I had a heart attack last January and afterwards I entered a program called Cardio Rehab. It is an excellent 12 week program to get us healthy and it covers exercise, nutrition, and stress reduction. The program is not only for heart attack survivors, but also for cancer survivors.
Cardio Rehab meets three times a week. After one of the exercise classes each week we have a lecture where they cover a various topic. A couple weeks ago the topic was "resilience."
The exercise physiologist talked about a professor at a prominent university who for 20 years studied the seriously ill cancer patients - the ones they didn't think would survive. Few of the patients he was studying, I think only 20%, did survive. And he found these surviving patients had qualities the other patients didn't have. He calls this resilience. This professor left the university and entered the private sector where he teaches corporations about what he has learned. Apparently he is making a killing telling these companies how to foster an environment of resilience.
The professor found that the patients who survived and thrived had 5 factors/ skills that the other patients did not have. As I sat there and listened to these 5 factors, I thought, 'This sounds a lot like a Christian to me. This sounds a lot like how the Bible tells Christians they should live.'
Here are the 5 factors/ skills of a resilient person who thrives in life:
1. Forgiving. A resilient person readily and quickly forgives others.
You have probably heard the saying that "Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Unforgiveness festers inside us. It makes us less than what God wants us to be. The Bible has a lot to say about forgiving others. Here's a couple verses.
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
What does forgiveness do? It heals us and witnesses to others the power of Christ.
2. Loving. A resilient person is loving.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is "to love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." The second greatest commandments is "to love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39) The Bible has a lot to say about loving others.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
1 John 4:8
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Jesus said others will know we are His disciples if we "have love for one another." (John 13:35)
3. Kind. A resilient person is kind.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
As you read the Bible note how much Jesus had compassion for people. "Compassion" is a key word in the Bible. The Lord showed us great kindness and the Bible tells us to show others that same kindness.
4. Hope. A resilient person has hope.
1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
1 Thessalonians 4:13,14
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
Christians have hope. People often think of "hope" as being a wishful thought. Christian "hope" is a settled certainty in the biblical context. We know this life is fleeting and not the end. We know one day we will be with Jesus and this "hope" gives us the ability to keep our earthly trials in perspective. We know one day that every tear will be wiped away.
5. Positive Attitude. Those who are resilient have a good outlook on what happens to them.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Christians go through hard situations too. We have heart attacks and get cancer, get chronic diseases, lose loved ones, are betrayed by our spouses, have rebellious children,... But we hold onto the certainty that God has a purpose for what we are going through. He knows our suffering. He is with us through it. He will bring good from it. We may not see the good, but we know His ways are not our ways. We don't see everything God is up to. We are sure God loves us and wants what is good for us and because we know God, we believe that the "good" somehow exists. That knowledge comforts us and strengthens us. We trust Him with our situation. We hold onto Him.
We all want to be a resilient person - surviving and thriving. Five things set a resilient person apart from others and they are the person is forgiving, loving, kind, hopeful and has a positive attitude. Exactly how the Bible tells Christians that we are supposed to live.
Heart attacks, cancer, chronic illnesses, bankruptcy, betrayal,... are the thieves which come to kill and destroy our joy. But they can't for those who walk with Christ.
Jesus tells us, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
Be resilient. Trust in the Lord.