ability to bounce back

The Ability to Bounce Back

I received a brochure some time ago from a company specializing in resilient furniture: simple, sturdy, water resistant tables and chairs. Not fancy in any way, but built to last.

They’re not cheap either; a plain white folding chair is about $90.

They’re not nearly as pretty as the leatherette office chairs I buy at the discount store for much less money — but those chairs, as I am reminded every time I have to replace one, don’t have a long life-span.

There’s something to be said for basic, unadorned resiliency: the ability to get through, get over, and get past life’s many trials and tribulations. In this sense, sturdy beats stylish every time.

A popular magazine did a cover story several years ago on the subject of resiliency, asking the question, “Why do some people bounce and others break?” The article noted how some who experience trauma withdraw into a shell, while others facing the same crisis not only bounce back, but bounce back stronger than ever before. It talked about how resiliency is being studied in universities and taught in corporate seminars.

Resiliency, the article said, could become the most important skill of the 21st century.

Why do some people break down while others bounce back? Unlike furniture, I don’t think it has to do with our design. A chair can only be as strong as it was made to be. It can’t decide to grow stronger; neither can it decide to give up.

We, on the other hand, have access to support beyond ourselves. The flaws in our design (so to speak) can be overcome. For example, a person who is, by nature, prone to be discouraged and give up too soon doesn’t have to stay that way.

There’s a verse in Philippians that is so often quoted its meaning is sometimes overlooked. Paul is talking about being able to face hard times as well as good times, and he states confidently, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Resilience — the ability to bounce back — often comes down to a single decision: from whose strength will I draw: my own, or God’s? The promise of Scripture is that if you will look to God for strength, he will give it to you.

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Today’s memo was updated from a previous post.