If you can’t fly, then run.
If you can’t run, then walk.
If you can’t walk, then crawl.
But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.
Inspiring words by the legendary Martin Luther King, Jr. Practical for then and appropriate for these days which have been described as “unprecedented”. Yet we need to survive and even thrive (recall the stirring call – “coming out stronger” through the pandemic and economic challenges).
To which, if we dare, to add a second verse:
If you keep moving and crawling forward, soon you will walk.
If you keep walking, soon you will run.
If you keep running, soon you will fly.
And this talk of walking, running and flying brings to mind Isaiah 40:31, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Three points emerge for our consideration.
1. Intentional: the desire to wait. Good choice. Strength has been depleted. On the fuel gauge, the indicator hovers over “E” (for Empty). It is time to wait upon the Lord to “top up”. How? By resourcing from the Word, reclaiming biblical promises and recalling the Lord’s interventions and supply in the lives of men and women of God from the past and present. Worth the wait. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.” (Ambrose Redmoon)
2. Incremental: the determination to be “more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37). Our students may be initially overwhelmed by the inherent stress and strains of educational pursuits and seek mental wellness through counselling, therapy, mentorship and even medical intervention. But the very system that seemed to overburden them may provide the ballast and self-efficacy to achieve mental resilience. As mentioned in 1 Cor 10:13, the very difficulties become the very avenues of victory. Fancy this … and so, slowly and steadily, the snails arrived at Noah’s ark to great applause. “We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
3. Inspirational: the direction to pursue. What does God use to strengthen us to become overcomers? “Beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences'' (Matshona Dhliwayo). God can, helping you, make all things turn out for good. But the template is not identical for everyone: “To each his own and from each his best”. For the Apostle Paul, this was what lay ahead: “except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me” (Acts 20:23). Yet he was not deterred but followed His Lord and Master in obedience and trod the path assigned to Him. So Richard Evans observed, in general, “Adversity is not a detour. It is part of the path.” The details may differ for each person but the overall direction is similar.
Bouncing back. That’s resilience in two words. Knocked down but not knocked out. As has been opined, it’s not how many times we fail but whether we get up one more time. Napoleon Bonaparte took it a step further: “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.” And in so doing, finding that there’s more in reserve than one thought.
Resilience is more than just the ability to roll with the punches but the skill to adapt to adversity, to cope with challenges. Life on earth is an upward journey with valleys and high ridges. We are strengthened each step of the way. The Lord Jesus is our Good Shepherd who knows how much we can endure. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us. Sometimes He lightens the load; sometimes He strengthens the sojourner. But always, He invigorates us to walk, run and mount up.
Born for the upsurge. Press on.
Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of Impact magazine.
VOL. 45 NO. 5 of IMPACT Magazine
RESILIENCE AND ENDURANCE ... Lessons on perseverance by Robert M Solomon I GIVE UP ! ... Why people do by Eric Dooley PERSEVERANCE IN THE END TIMES by Glenn Myers TRADEDY STRIKES TWICE ... A story of resilience by Josephine Chee as told to Mary Yeo-Carpenter STRENGTHENING ONE'S RESOLVE ~ The IMPACT Panel Responds ~ SAME, DIFFERENT ... Join the fight by Mary Yeo-Carpenter BODY FITNESS ... A matter of soul strength? by Lai Kai Ming