Resilience to Labour for a Lifetime
By Robert Bolton, Brisbane Labouring Community
Resilience is the ability or capacity to recover quickly – to bounce back from difficulties and setbacks. Sometimes, everything in us wants to quit or at least slow down, it’s in these times that our need for a resilience outside ourselves is apparent. The writer to the Hebrews warns us against that tendency to give up especially in Chapter 12:1b-2a where he says “… lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”. This involves full surrender and brokenness at times, looking to Jesus and trusting God to lead us and sustain us.
One example to follow is of King David, as he cried out to God and prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right (or steadfast) spirit within me…uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Psalms 51:10-13). David got up again by God’s sustaining grace and started moving, including teaching transgressors God’s ways! This example shows the importance of prayer. It’s amazing to read Psalm18 and the implications expressed in that song about God’s faithfulness in responding to David’s pleas for help in a time of distress and how the Lord acted in rescuing him, against overwhelming odds, restoring him, and enabling him to move on to a ‘broad place’ of praise, support and effectiveness.
“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…”
But resilience also involves the attitude of the apostle Paul as expressed in the letter to the Philippians: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14). To forget past regrets, hurts and humiliation, even past successes and triumphs, and move on in humility and faith – to learn to be thankful, and to have a hunger to be active in ministering again; to be resilient with joy!
A key aspect and practice of continuing in resilience is to hold fast to the basics of the Christian walk which include surrender to Christ, faith, love, humility, and the maintenance of a clear conscience. The means whereby these qualities can grow in us through the work of the Holy Spirit is through applying the “means of grace”. These include having a “full assurance of hope”; continual surrender and obedience to Christ by faith; regular intake, meditation, understanding, and application of the Word of God; believing prayer; a regular daily time alone with God; encouraging and constructive fellowship with others in a caring community; witnessing and sharing the gospel with others. These essentials or spiritual disciplines are illustrated by the Navigators’ “The Wheel” illustration. These are basic for all Christians.Over the centuries the Christian Church has had its share of those who have either ship-wrecked their faith, or who have been severely crippled spiritually, unable to bounce back due to hurt, rejection, pride, lack of recognition or indeed persecution and loss. Just as in our lives, we are going to be hurt in one way or another. There will always be the temptation to be bitter and shrink back, to not be involved in the harvest through the gospel.
The fruit of resilience is the obedience of faith, and in the context of missions among other things, it is to continue in the defence and proclamation of the gospel, including making disciples to successive generations together with others in community. To be a labourer in the harvest for a lifetime.
“For the righteous falls seven times and rises again…” (Proverbs 24:16a). This verse seems to imply that it is not how many times we fail, but how long it takes to get back up again and to keep going that counts. In effect, “you can’t keep a good man down!”
Living by faith, surrendering all, “waiting on the Lord”, and being thankful in all circumstances helps us to avail ourselves of God’s grace, to be renewed and thus resilient. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” To ‘wait’ means to expect. To expect God to act. Like the eagle that spreads its wings and relies on the air currents to begin to soar knowing and expecting that the seemingly invisible force of the air currents will lift it high effortlessly. It reminds me of what God said to the prophet Zechariah “…not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). It is God’s work from start to finish, and we are to respond to Him and be drawn along by His enabling, sovereign will and ultimate purposes.
Robert Bolton is the leader of our Brisbane Community. We are currently praying for more labourers to join our team in Brisbane, especially with universities.
If you would be interested in joining the team or want to know more, please contact us at [email protected]