Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.Heb 10:23
What it is:
Resilience is often described as the ability to either ‘stand firm’ or to ‘bounce back’ in the midst of challenging or trying times. It could also be understood as grounding your character on a solid foundation so that when life becomes difficult there is a rich source of inner resources to draw on in order to ‘get through’. The verse above shows how the foundation for resilience – the ability to “hold fast… without wavering”- is hope, for without hope there would be no motivation to hold on, stand firm, or bounce back. Hope, in turn, is grounded in the faithfulness of God: something sure and steadfast and unchanging.
What it is not:
It is not about self-discipline, as important as that can be in our lives. Nor is it about teeth-clenched, chin-up, steely determination in the midst of difficult times. Those stances can help us get through an acute tough situation but do not in themselves provide the context needed for human flourishing which resilience within a Christian framework can provide.
What makes this a Christian value?:
The much loved passage from 1 Corinthians 13 with its words about love may hold some helpful insights for thinking about resilience in the light of Christain faith. Verse 13 in particular: ‘and now faith, hope and love abide and the greatest of these is love.’
The Greek word translated as ‘abide’ or in other translations as ‘remain’ or ‘persevere’ is menō. The passage is suggesting that when all things pass away including knowledge, understanding, spiritual gifts and acts of service to others…the three things of faith, hope and love will both endure to the end and ‘lie at the heart of it all’.
These virtues will endure because their source is found in God, rather than any innate power they themselves have. Our active connection with God as the source of life offers us the gift of reflecting those virtues in our lives.
The word menō, translated as abide in 1 Corinthians 13, is also used in John 15, one of Jesus’ “I am” sayings: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5
Our ability to reflect love, hope and faith in our lives is based on our connectedness, our abiding, in Christ’s life. This abiding not only produces the fruit of Christian virtues, it also provides us with strong roots for life and the ability to persevere in the midst of difficult times.
Providing students with the tools of Christian contemplative practices, is an important way of enabling them to develop a sense of ‘abiding’ in Christ and building resilience.
For resources on Christian Contemplative practices visit the Christian Contemplative Practices web-site developed by the Anglican and Presbyterian Schools’ Offices: www.ccc.net.nz.