New Awakening: Resiliency

Times of new Awakening are more like a sunrise than a lightning strike. They emerge rather than erupt. They occur through endurance. Resiliency is another sign that we are in a time of new Awakening. We see people all over the place who refuse to give up, give in, or give out. They are signs of a new Awakening by their tenacity.

I did not plan this post for the week leading up to Christmas, but it is easy to look at the birth of Christ in relation to resilience, both on the part of Mary and Joseph—and not only their resilience leading up to Jesus’ birth, but afterward as well. And it continued in Jesus’ life and ministry all the way to his ascension.

Resiliency is fidellity–the mark of obedience, the sign of endurance. Resilience is tenacity, the decision to “stay with the mess” [1] as the principalities and powers are vanquished by the Prince of Peace. Resiliency is incarnating the conviction that darkness cannot overcome light (John 1:5). Resilience is offering ourselves to God, praying to become lights to the world as we bear witness to Christ, the Light of the world.

Resiliency is also flexibility. It is the art of glancing off opposition and defeat, and moving toward the goal of overcoming evil with good by using a different plan and walking on another path. Most reformers are “Plan B” people. They do not idolize their initial thoughts, but rather see them as the soil from which unseen seeds of insight sprout and grow. New awakenings occur through trial and error, by believing that failure is not final.

And perhaps most of all, resilience is characterized by hope. The fallen-world system, complete with its preachers and politicians, will not have the final word. This is the hope that launches the Christian year—the belief that the birth of Jesus is the ultimate sign that God is with us, and that those who have sat in darkness will see a great light.

Hope is the keynote which enables us to sing, “We shall overcome….someday.” And adding, “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.“

[1] This phrase is from Charlotte Beck. I read it without reference to a specific book of hers. I captured it because it reminded me of Dorothy Day and her resilience.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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