Resistance Breeds Resilience

Bianca Juarez OlthoffBy Bianca Juarez Olthoff7 Minutes

 Excerpt taken from Grit Don’t Quit: Developing Resilience and Faith When Giving Up Isn’t an Option by Bianca Juarez Olthoff

 

Chapter Six
Resistance Breeds Resilience

Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.
Paul the Apostle (Acts 14:22 MSG)

Full disclosure: I spend a lot of my time somewhere between living to my fullest potential and wanting to quit. The spectrum is wide, and some days are better than others. But that’s where most of us live. We aren’t throwing in the towel; we’re asking, Will this even make a difference?

If we aren’t careful, status quo will be our standard.

I’ll do just enough to say I tried.
I’ll say the words and hope for the best.
I will show up in person, even if my heart is far away.
I’ll hide in my cubicle and watch the clock until it’s time to go.

But your soul knows status quo is a no-go. There’s more for you, and your soul knows it. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll stay where you’ve always been. That’s not resilience; that’s resignation.

Resignation is dangerous because it’s almost always based in a legitimate loss or failure. No one resigns when everything is great. Resignation is rooted in some form of our current reality. This reality will cause us to fear hoping or believing that anything will change. This reality will ignite fear to dream or hope again. This reality will cause chronic disappointment. This reality will make us feel beat up and cause us to question why we should go on.

Have you ever wanted to erase everything and start over? Just wipe the slate clean and have a clean start?

Starting over can feel like an alluring solution, but it very rarely gets us where we ultimately want to be.

More often than not, conflict, challenges, and chaos offer us opportunities to evaluate where our problems are rooted. But discovering the root of a problem is both emotionally and psychologically demanding. It takes time and patience and a gritty commitment to the greater goal. Quite frankly, it’s hard work! This is why it’s so appealing to simply wipe the slate clean.

If I just quit my job, then I will be truly happy.
If I just move to a new city, then I will be able to find real friends.
If I just get married, then I will be able to start my life.
If I just get divorced, then I will be free to find my truest self.

Or consider these less-sweeping ideas that can be just as powerful at keeping us stuck:

If I just eat the chocolate cake, then I will be happy.
If I just watch one more episode, then it’ll be enough.
If I have just one more glass of wine, then I will stop hurting.
If I just buy that designer purse, then I will feel like I fit in and belong.

But is a new job, new purse, new spouse, or no spouse the answer? Not likely.

Most of the time, when we struggle, it’s within the framework of the choices we believed were the best ones we could make. To translate that into Christianese, we were obeying the God-call on our lives. You said yes to your job, you said yes to the move, you said yes to serving at church, and you said yes to your spouse. You did what you felt led by God to do. So why is there so much resistance?

Paul the Apostle was called and anointed. Charged to spread the gospel, he preached and taught everywhere he went. Powerful revivals began breaking out, and people received salvation. In addition, Paul facilitated miraculous healings. In Acts 14, we see Paul and Barnabas boldly preaching the gospel in Lystra. While there, Paul supernaturally healed a paralyzed man who hadn’t walked since birth. Invoking the name of Jesus, Paul commanded the paralyzed man to get up and walk, to the shock of crowds of witnesses. The astonished onlookers began to worship Paul and Barnabas, calling them Zeus and Hermes, Greek gods in human form.

Paul was dismayed at the people’s misappropriation of the miracle. He insisted that it was God’s power, not his own, that had healed the man. But even after his explanation, the crowd still insisted on offering sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. When a group of religious Jews managed to gain control of the frenzied crowd, they stoned Paul.

So what happens when you are doing what you have been called to do and you get knocked down because of it? What if you are persecuted? What is your move when stones are being thrown at you (granted, not real stones, the way it was for Paul, but proverbial stones of hatred)?

This kind of resistance can stop us in our tracks.

Paul was stoned, dragged outside the city gates, and left for dead. Though I can safely assume few of us relate to an experience quite that extreme, I believe we can all understand what it’s like to feel beat up when we’re pursuing God’s call on our lives.

 Taken from “Grit Don’t Quit” by Bianca Juarez Olthoff. Copyright 2023 by Bianca Juarez Olthoff. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson. harpercollinschristian.com

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