I found this one whilst planning an Act of Worship for a Secondary School... On "Resilience" believe it or not...
Resilience isn’t mentioned in the bible. I tried to find a greek word as to what it means so that I could check in the geeky apps and things I use to make sure.
The word that came back was this one… ελαστικότητα (Elastikótita)
However you pronounce it, that first bit is where we get our word “Elastic” (I could tell that without looking it up)
So what have I learned? Let's think about Elastic vs Plastic…
Both can be moulded and shaped by the world around them.
Plastic tends to need heat and energy in order to make it take a shape, and then when you take the heat away it will stay the shape that it has been moulded to. You can often re-apply heat to a plastic shape and then re-shape it again, but the more you heat and cool it, the more brittle it becomes in its set state… The more likely it is to break.
Elastic moves with the input of energy, it changes shape, changes tension, and adapts, but always returns to where it was before.
It's kind of like Elastic Man.
Where plastic things need the certainty and consistency after being moulded in order to maintain their form and not get weakened and brittle, Elastic things get brittle when they’re not used. If they’re not regularly flexed, or are left too long in a stretched position, then they become brittle and snap.
Anyway, resilience is about this whole “elastic” thing…
So where does it feature in the Bible?
Directly? Nowhere. Resilience isn’t a word used in the bible in English, Greek or Hebrew.
And in the way that I’ve heard Christianity talked about lots in the past I have often wondered whether the concept of it is even there.
The “similar” words that sometimes get used to replace resilience in the bible are: Perseverance... Endurance... Long-suffering... Tolerance...
… They don’t quite cut it for me.
They more imply being rigid, immobile, standing against and putting up with things. Letting them bounce of you like they aren’t really things.
That’s not to say that a better “elastic” idea of resilience isn’t in the Bible… I think it is, in stories and even in what God calls people to be, but I think it’s uncomfortable and ignored.
The closest I can get to what I think resilience is is in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 -
“We are under all kinds of pressure, but we are not crushed completely; we are at a loss, but not at our wits’ end; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are cast down, but not destroyed.”
To me, this is about resilience because it's not trying to deny the difficulty, but to allow for flexibility in line with the tension.
I think for me there are 4 key steps to being resilient:
Step 1: Don't pretend everything is ok.
Don't try and be immovable plastic. That never ends well. Allow for hurt and for flew. For pressure and change.
Step 2: Have faith in your capacity to stretch.
You got this. Yes, it's difficult, but you, with the support of others can weather the storm. Resilience is about trusting that you will not snap with added pressure and tension.
Step 3: Be confident* that you can bounce back... (*That's my definition of Hope...)
Just like elastic, being stretched isn't the permanent design. It might last a little while, but your body, brain, spirit and soul know deep down how your life is supposed to be. It is doing its job when it is stretched, but it is also doing its job when it returns to form. Listen to your body, in line with your mind, soul and spirit.
Step 4: Know, grow, and show Love
If you can identify love, friends, divinity, family, then you are already well on your way to resilience.
But why these four steps? 1 Corinthians 13:13 -
“Three things will last forever--
faith, hope, and love--
and the greatest of these is love.”
Ultimately resilience isn't something you do on your own though. It's a together thing. A family thing. A community thing.
If you'd rather listen and come to your own conclusions about the eclectic mix of songs I worked through in Lent 2023, here's the Spotify Playlist!