Resilience: Being In the Fire Without Getting Burned

By Chelsea Tyson

 

What is Resilience?

In Daniel 3 we find three guys with a dilemma. Since they refused to ditch their faith and bow to the king, they were sentenced to death by fire. However, when they were thrown in the furnace, *spoiler alert* they didn’t die. In fact, not only did they not get burned, everything was as if they were never in the flames – but they were.

I’ve heard this story a lot growing up, and thanks to VeggieTales, I can’t read it without thinking about chocolate bunnies. That aside, I realized that this story paints the perfect picture of resilience.

Resilience, or the ability to bounce back in the midst of adversity, is one of those words that communicate inspiration, power, and perseverance. However, we often overlook the most important part of resilience, the “hard times and adversity” part. If it weren’t for the trials and difficulties we face in life, there would be no such thing as “resilience.” An article published in The New Yorker puts it this way:

If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?

We are all too aware of the challenges and obstacles present in our lives, families, and world. Especially in this digital age we live in, it’s nearly impossible to be unaware of the injustices, tragedies, and issues today. It’s easy to complain and scoff at the fact that we have to go through these difficulties. Why did this happen? Why me? Etc. However, just think, without those trials, whether on a personal or global scale, we wouldn’t be able to see just how resilient we can be. Hard times are the only reason why we get to be resilient. That’s why Daniel 3 captures the essence of resilience so perfectly. Yes, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survived the fire and made it out unscathed, BUT that doesn’t take away the fact that they actually had to go in the furnace. Resilience, then, is being in the middle of the fire without getting burned.

But How?

Many people say that being resilient depends a lot on the perspective we choose to have, but I’m sure, when you’re going through a tough time, the last thing you want to hear is, “Oh, you just need to have a better attitude about it. Be positive.” While that is definitely true – the way you choose to react to tough situations can determine how quickly you can recover from them – there are two other, more tangible tools to build resilience: community and gratitude.

I recently found myself living out one of my “worst case scenarios” that used to only exist in my over-analytical brain. However, oddly enough, I did not feel like my world was falling apart like I thought it would. This was due primarily to the fact that I was surrounded by people who poured into my life in that moment. It’s hard to feel empty when you have people around you continuously filling you up. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being popular or having a bunch of friends, I’m talking about seeking out and holding tight to the people in your life who truly care. They do exist and when you find them, don’t let them go.  

Resilience, then, is being in the middle of the fire without getting burned.

The other thing that brought me peace (dare I say, “joy”?) in my storm was realizing all I had to be grateful for. No doubt, my situation sucked, but I thought of all the other times when things didn’t go my way, and how God faithfully delivered me each and every time. Sure, I could focus on what could be or what I don’t have, but why when God has provided for me in so many other ways. The fact that we still have breath today. The fact that you have access to a computer and internet to read this right now. The fact that you can read or have someone in your life who can read these words to you. All those things are reasons to be grateful despite whatever obstacle you’re going through.

I know, it’s a lot easier said than done. I’ve been there... I am there. But think about it, when you find yourself living through what you thought would be the worst thing imaginable, stop for a moment to realize, you’re actually living through it. You’re dealing with something that you probably never thought you could live through. Friend, this is your moment to be resilient.