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Growing in resilience

There is a very interesting story in the Bible that usually captures our attention especially when we are children.

Many sermons have been preached and Sunday School lessons taught about a small shepherd boy named David and a giant of a man named Goliath. If you grew up in church, there is no doubt you are familiar with the story. If you did not grow up in church, chances are you have still heard about it.

David was a young boy basically tending to his father’s sheep while his older brothers are off fighting in the Army of Israel. David’s father sent him to the battlefield to check on the well-being of his brothers and to take them and their officers some food. David arrived at the scene of the battle and found Goliath taunting that the entire Israelite army.

Because of his size, he terrified the army, but not David. The young boy volunteered to fight this giant when everyone else stood paralyzed by fear.

The one piece of this story that has always been fascinating to me is how David responded to those that tried to talk him out of fighting the giant one on one. When confronted about why he would volunteer to do it David responded, “The same God that delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver me from this giant.”

David could be resilient in this situation because he could stop and recount past victories that he had won while tending sheep.

There are so many times in our lives we face giant-size problems. When those giant-sized problems present, we have a choice to make. Will we be resilient, or will we be vulnerable? But what if we want to be resilient but don’t understand how?

The principle that has captivated me about this story for years is the simple fact that David grew in his resilience. As the size of his problems grew, so did his ability to remain hopeful and eventually victorious over those problems.

He saw this as possible because he recognized his past experiences had prepared him for the future. He stopped and recounted his past victories and realized that same God would be at work in his present situation.

We have a past for a reason. Our past is not really something that is meant to be sulked over. Rather our past is there to help us learn and grow in our faithfulness to the tasks that God has called us to in the present.

Everyone experiences difficulties and problems in this life. Not everyone will handle those issues the same way.

Some people roll with whatever comes their way and that is essentially what it means to be resilient. Others tend to shut down and stop functioning in a normal way.

We all have the capacity to grow in our resilience. One way that this happens is when we like David, recount our past victories and remember Who delivered us.

Shawn Tipton is the chaplain at Fayette Regional Health System. He wrote this article as a member of the Fayette County Ministerial Association.