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Resilience is toughness: the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties. Life is a series of difficulties. With God’s help, you can develop resilience to the decaying nature of this world.
Many events in life bring happiness and many bring sadness. Everyone has their share of both, but some people experience more sadness than others. For them, if they can fix their attention on the next life, they can develop resilience in this life.
Recently, I remembered what is often printed on the back of electronic equipment. Such electronics need to have resilience. Any particular item cannot be so sensitive that another could easily destroy it. Here is what is written on the back of my DVD player:
Operation is subject to the following two conditions:
- This device may not cause harmful interference.
- This device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.
It is interesting that such a law exists for electronic devices. It is a simple, but profound rule that allows many kinds of electronics to be in operation at the same time and in the same space–without interfering with each other.
Some interference might be annoying (the device will not work). But other interference apparently can cause “undesired operation.” Could someone create an electronic device that could overload other devices, turning them into some kind of hazard?
What if these conditions could be applied to human relationships? The first condition is God’s desire that we stop sinning. We are not supposed to harm others–repay evil with evil. He empowers us to do so by His Spirit, but even Christians have the potential to keep sinning. The second condition defines resilience. Even when others sin against us, God wants us to “turn the other cheek” instead of responding with more destructive interference.
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.Matthew 5:38-40 NLT
What does this look like in marriage? First of all, God does not want husbands and wives to harm each other. This is easier said than done. Intimacy with another person stirs up hope that our deepest desires will be met. While this is a good thing, it also means the possibility of significant disappointment or even heartbreak.
Some people will respond by shutting down. Instead of being in a situation where hopes are raised and then crushed, it seems best to not feel hopeful about desires being met. Technically, shutting down meets the definition of resilience because becoming tough or calloused 1) does not overtly cause interference and 2) blocks interference from others. Pulling the plug on an electrical device during an electric storm is wise, but the device will be useless if it is never plugged in again.
Shutting down works in short bursts during intense interference. But more is required to be in a loving relationship. God would have us continue to be vulnerable (turn the other cheek, accept interference but stay involved) in relationships, even if it means getting slapped sometimes.
Can you try moving toward other people in your life, even though they have hurt you? Developing resilience is an ongoing effort. It’s not possible to respond perfectly to others like Jesus was able to when He was being set up and crucified. Sometimes the interference we receive causes undesired operation (a sinful response in us). But this does not have to end in tossing your life into the junk pile.
Take the time you need to develop resilience but don’t give up on God’s truth that you are wanted, are valuable, and have a purpose. Perhaps God could print these conditions on our hearts.
This human being is subject to the following two conditions:
- This heart may not cause harmful interference to another heart.
- This heart must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired pain and suffering.
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Image was taken by Matt Pavlik.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.