by: Ellene Meece
re-sil-ience: (1) the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress (2) an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Psychology Today offered this insight on the definition of resilience, "Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on."
The recent horrific storms that ravaged the State of Oklahoma in the USA left a wide and long path of opportunity to showcase resilience.
For heartsick, grieving parents who lost their children; for tens of thousands of homeless families who lost their home, their refuge at the end of a work day; for the hundreds of businesses who face the dilemma of no revenue for months and wonder if it's worth it to rebuild-all these people, who can lift up their heads and know the Greater One lives within, show the world the definition of resilience.
Rhett Burnett, who serves as an undersheriff in central Oklahoma, is also an associate pastor at Elevate Church in Moore, Oklahoma-the city savaged by Monday's F5 tornado.
According to a Charisma News report, when a man asked Burnett why God allows tragedies such as this tornado to happen, Burnett replied that he doesn't believe God creates mayhem.
"I told him that we all need to praise the Lord that we're alive," said Burnett, "and I told him that God is his provider. We need to praise the Lord and trust that He is going to take care of us.
"This is a resilient city," added Burnett, "and with God's grace, we'll recover. We've been through the grinder with these storms . . . [but] we know our God is an awesome God and He's with us."
Burnett is not an anomaly. He is a typical example of how faith in God produces the most amazing stories of resilience-people who respond to life's tragedies with hope and to others' needs in the most compassionate way.
From stories on the ground in Oklahoma, resilience is having just lost all your own earthly possessions and running down the street to help dig victims out of the rubble. Resilience is praying with lost children to find their parents and offering up food and temporary shelter to your neighbor across town. Resilience is facing months of clean up but starting with rolling up your sleeves with hundreds of friends and neighbors and cleaning up the cemeteries in preparation for the funerals to come. Resilience is being creative and finding a way to make a difference by setting up a mobile center to fix tires for victims and volunteers. It's opening up your restaurant that survived to give a free meal to first responders and volunteers.
It is delivering 1000 pairs of shoes and socks from your own shoe store business to those who have lost this basic necessity. It's eye doctors opening up free clinics with free glasses and contacts, medical clinics offering free care, churches everywhere collecting needed items and setting up beds in their gyms and class rooms.
It's apartment complexes offering long-term apartments to displaced families, colleges opening up their dorms for short-term options, local celebrities kicking in millions of dollars while offering help on the ground as well; vet clinics offering free care for pets while others organizing to reunite pets with owners. It's volunteers planning meals for the weeks ahead to feed the workers, or simply a 13-year-old girl standing on a corner with a white sign that reads: "Need a hug? I am here!" and people taking her up on the offer.
Resilience . . . story after story of compassion, unrestrained love, free-spirited giving and rising above it all.
Without resilience, the opposite is to not adjust, to blame, to be angry, to lash out in despair, to give up.
In Ephesians 3:16 Paul prays, "May He [God] grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality."
Clearly, resilience is a gift from God. It is the face of God in the midst of misfortune and change. It is the steady voice of God when the storms are loud and long.
Thank you, Father for the gift of resilience that comes from knowing You are our hope and strength. Thank you for showing us the resilient ones whose trust is in You. Thank You that after the storm passes, we are stronger than ever. Amen.
Ellene Meece lives in Meeker, Colorado and works with her husband in their natural resource company while running her own online store, Grandma's Treasures Online.
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