When the tempests of life come upon us, we become like the boat tossed about in Luke's account of Jesus calming the storm. Like the disciples in the boat, we too cry out, "Master! Master! Save us, we are going to drown!" (Luke 8:24). During these times our deepest fears and greatest cares surface.
Last month, we reflected upon how deep faith in Jesus Christ, honesty, acceptance and managing our emotions are keys to resiliency. To be resilient is to bounce back and move on in the aftermath of difficulties that may come our way. Jesus, our brother, friend, our master, does not want us to be stuck in all that weighs us down. He wants us to heal and be transformed.
This month, we'll explore some other keys to resilience that can help us to move on and not be stuck in the mire of adversity. A long time ago, a wise person aptly stated, "You can't be grateful and miserable at the same time." Gratitude has a way of helping one to focus on the positives in life and the gifts that God constantly gives. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus expressed gratitude when he said, "Father, I thank you. What you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to children" (Luke 10:21). As Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus he said, "Father I thank you that you have heard my prayer" (John 11:41). Gratitude is an important element of resiliency.
Amidst difficult and desperate times, it is easy to want to give up or walk away. For a Christian, desperate times are when we are invited to perhaps work harder than we ever did. In the Gospels, we can observe Jesus rising early in the morning, and working hard throughout the day teaching, preaching and performing miracles that all might believe in him. Jesus worked hard, and we must work hard too. Resilience demands that in some way we take charge of the situation and work at building a better, more peaceful future by what we do today.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus told his disciples, "I no longer call you slaves. I call you friends" (John 15: 15). By his words and example, he shows us that we need others to help and support us through the hard times in life. He formed a community with the 12, and when many were leaving him, he asked if they too would abandon Him. The courageous Peter responded, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). Like Jesus, we need a circle of trust, and in faith we need to include him in that circle.
As we work at ways to bounce back from the misfortunes of life and move on as individuals, families and communities, let's remember that through the transforming power of Christ, the mess becomes a message that Christ speaks to the world through us. When our faith is tested, our test becomes a testimony to Christ who has walked with us through our pain and sorrow. The path of resiliency is the paschal mystery unfolding in us, a journey from death to new life where God makes us new.