I guess the thought here is simple—we experience loss, we grieve, we grow. Yes, sometimes that takes years, even decades, where the rate and result of growth are tenuous at best. But the orientation of resilience in loss and grief is nonetheless true.
I know that cliches aren’t appreciated in many circles today—like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s sad that it’s true that what doesn’t kill you ultimately certainly feels like it’s killing you for a very long time.
The nuance of loss and grief is this—it has to go deep to the point of feeling like it’s going to break you before any real growth occurs.
This is the sad reality for all spiritual zealots—their growth is entirely contingent on being pressed in and challenged beyond capacity. Think of any elite military or para-military training program. It takes recruits completely out of their comfort zone. They experience pain, confusion, overwhelm on every level—they sink or swim.
It’s the same with the challenges that leave us bereft of response. It’s all for learning and growth, and in faith, we’re being tested and tried for eventual triumph.
You may be flying in life without a care in the world, and if you’ve never suffered you won’t get this. But chances are you HAVE suffered at some point. The testing experience took you to despair for one of two outcomes—you gave up and entered denial and a drug ‘fixed it’ or you gave your will to fight for survival. And so very often, the struggle for resilience has involved many wrong turns and poor decisions, but you’re still pursuing resilience.
Those who fight for survival, despite sometimes feeling floored, enter a training program, whether they comprehend it or not.
Gene Edwards in The Tale of Three Kings puts it this way in terms of King David’s life:
“God has a university, and it’s a small school. Few enroll. Even fewer graduate. Very, very few indeed.”
This is not a message for the masses, but it could be one for you when you’re about to throw in the towel.
Stick at it. When life has thrown you one curveball, a fast straight one you could only miss, and you feel life is the pitcher and they’re laughing at your pathetic attempt to lay bat on the ball, remember there are no ‘three strikes and you’re out’ in life as there is in baseball.
You’ll have your day. Your hour is coming. Wait for it patiently while doing your best, even at those times when you know your best isn’t really good enough—it’s okay to be weak, to lose heart, to give in to the torrent of wave after fierce wave.
Resilience is not learned in victory. It’s learned in defeat, in having the humility to try again. Resilience is the ability to bounce back and have another go, even when the previous one was reason itself to give it all away. Resilience isn’t compelled by discouragement, but it knows that in the presence of discouragement is the need for hope. Resilience causes us to reach out for anything that would help—see, humility, pivotal, front and center.
Where there is humility in loss and grief, resilience is the sure eventual result.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Tribework