I received a brochure a while back from a company specializing in "resilient furniture": simple, sturdy, water resistant tables and chairs — not fancy in any way, but built to last. They're not cheap either; a plain white folding chair is about $60. They're not as pretty as the chairs at Sam's for about the same price, but those chairs don't have a long life-span.

There's something to be said for basic, unadorned resiliency—the ability to get through, get over, and thrive after trauma, trials and tribulations. In this sense, sturdy beats stylish every time.

USA Weekend did a cover story a few years ago on the subject of resiliency, asking the question, "Why do some people bounce and others break?" The article noted how some people who experience trauma withdraw into a shell, while others facing the same crisis not only bounce back, but bounce back stronger than ever before. It talked about how resiliency is being studied in universities and taught in corporate seminars. Resiliency, the article said, could become the most important skill of the 21st century.

Why do some people break down while others bounce back? Unlike furniture, I don't think it has to do with our design. A chair can only be as strong as it was made to be; it can't decide to be more resilient or less resilient. We, on the other hand, have access to support beyond ourselves.

Our "design" — our emotional make-up resulting from parental and societal influences — can be overcome. A person who is naturally weak and easily discouraged doesn't have to stay that way.

There's a verse in Philippians that is so often quoted its meaning is sometimes overlooked. Paul is talking about being able to face hard times as well as good times, and he states confidently, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

Resilience often comes down to a decision: whose strength will I draw from — my own, or God's? One of the wonderful truths of the gospel message is that if you will look to God for strength, he will give it to you.


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