Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 15; 147:1-11, 1 Samuel 25:23-44, Acts 14:19-28, Mark 4:35-41
Resilience, a term long used in medical circles, is becoming a staple of life and leadership coaches. For medical purposes, resilience means the ability to resist and recover from disease. In the area of personal development, it describes the ability to bounce back from stress. Either kind of resilience depends partially on traits we’re born with, but with some knowledge and effort we can positively influence how resilient we are in both senses.
Paul was a paragon of resilience. The man was nearly impossible to keep down. In Lycaonia, Paul and the other disciples won many converts among the gentiles. When Jews who were hostile to Paul came from Antioch and Iconium to Lycaonia and turned the people against him, the crowds “stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up, regrouped, and went from city to city encouraging the disciples and appointing elders.
It seems Paul’s resilience depended on his faith and his interaction with other people. We can all draw on our reserves of resilience, but we need to learn how. For some of us that means interacting with loved ones, and for others it means time alone. Maybe it’s art. Maybe it’s running. The benefits one person gets from time in prayer and meditation may be the same benefits someone else gets from kickboxing lessons. Because we are all so different, we should be careful not to ridicule or belittle someone else’s means of stress reduction. Nor should we feel pressured to explain or modify our own to suit someone else’s expectations.
Cultivating resilience – even if it takes time away from other people’s priorities – is not selfish; it’s self care. Stress attacks the body in many of the same ways disease does, but we can build immunity. Why deny ourselves mental health exercises any more than we would physical exercise? Our ability to serve God and the Kingdom only improves as our resilience does. If we’re going to love our neighbors as we love ourselves … don’t we first have to love ourselves?
Comfort: You are part of God’s creation; treat yourself like you would the rest.
Challenge: Reflect on the ways you deal with stress and whether they increase your resilience or simply suppress it.
Prayer: Lord, teach me healthy ways to care for myself so I may be at my best to serve you. Amen.
Discussion: What helps you build resilience?
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