Bouncing Back

Sometimes this senior needs to bounce back.  On occasion you, too, may find it necessary to do the same.  

Balls do bounce.  You’ve noticed that.  That’s why they’re so fun.  But the fun is based on science.  Balls are designed to absorb energy on impact and then transfer the energy in the opposite direction.  When the ball strikes the ground, it deforms temporarily and bounces back up.  The air inside the ball acts like a spring - it gets compressed and again expands.”

This is called resilience, which can be defined as the ability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after being deformed, especially by compressive stress.

Balls are not the only things that bounce upon impact -- people do too.  At least they should because if they do not nurture the ability to bounce back after a negative experience, they will break.

No matter who you are or where you live on this planet, one thing is certainly true: right now you are either in the middle of a difficult experience, you just came through a difficult experience, or you will soon be facing another difficult experience.

There is no getting around it.  Life can be difficult.

Jesus plainly stated, “In this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV).

Not, “You may have trouble,” but rather “You will have trouble”.

Peter said, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12, NKJV).

It is an absolute certainty of life that we will face troubles and trials, perplexities and problems.  The question is never  “Will my life be impacted by difficulties?” but rather “How can I be so resilient that I will bounce back from the difficulties that I will certainly face?”  We need to cultivate the ability to absorb the energy of life’s blows and bounce back without being crushed.

But how?

Suggested here are three biblical strategies for cultivating resilience in a world that often hits us with trouble.

1: Center your trust in Jesus

You have, no doubt, noticed that Christianity has become the domain of religious celebrities.  Yet when we cultivate starstruck dependence on “rock star” megachurch pastors or charismatic evangelists, we are vulnerable to devastation if and when they fall.

We may even turn away from Jesus because of our disappointment with someone who claims to speak for Him: a pastor or an elder, a father or a mother, a friend in whom we placed a high level of confidence.  The recent scandal regarding Ravi Zacharias (a popular evangelist) presents to us a case study in the folly of trusting any human being, no matter how apparently righteous, talented, intelligent, or charismatic.

The weakest form of gospel witness is an orator on a stage, and it is easy to fake.  Literally, anybody with a good brain-mouth connection can pull it off, no matter what their motive happens to be.

By contrast, the strongest gospel witness is a loving family and a loving local church, in which there is transparency, accountability, and a constant redemptive process of truth-telling and grace.

The follower of Jesus is called upon to cultivate the habit of “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV).  If we lock our eyes on Jesus, we will find ourselves bouncing back with resilience from the disappointment we experience when someone we look up to fails us.

2: Remain in community

Our world is designed to divide people while creating the illusions of connection.  Perhaps the most colossal misnomer of our time is the use of the word “friends” to describe those who follow us on social media.  As followers of Jesus, we a called to live our lives in genuine “fellowship” with one another in order to cross-pollinate our knowledge of Jesus and the “joy” we derived from “fellowship” with Him (1 John 1:1-4).

As tempting as it may be to say at home and. watch online sermons and call that your “church”, it is vital to our spiritual health to be an active member of a local church body.  People need people.  When the troubles of life pounce upon us, our likelihood of bouncing back with resilience will be significantly increased when we are surrounded by people we love.

3: Live to give

The best remedy to bouncing back from any difficulty is to channel the negative energy of our pain into the positive pursuit of serving others.  When tragedy strikes, we can move in one of two directions: inward or outward.  The energy generated by any adverse event has to go somewhere.  If I channel my energy towards myself by obsessing over my problems and pains they will tend to be magnified and take up more and more emotional space inside of me.

But if I channel my energy into serving the needs of others, I will tend to lose sight of my troubles in the joy that is always the byproduct of giving.  “Give”, Jesus admonished, “and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full --pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38, NLT).

As followers of Jesus, we are called upon to bear the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:23; 2 Peter 1:6), to cultivate the habit of telling ourselves no.  But self-control isn’t a negative discipline.  It is, in fact, a positive discipline, because saying no to myself is allowing me to say yes to the needs of others.

John Wesley’s old financial admonition is still brilliant: “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”

The Christian is, by definition, a channel of benevolence to the world.   Cultivating the habit of self-control is the precursor to benevolence.  We say no to our indulgent wants so we can say yes to other people’s legitimate needs.

Givers are resilient because their focus is outward rather than inward.  They bounce back from the setbacks of life by helping others overcome their setbacks.

Balls bounce,

Do you?

Thanks to Ty Gibson, director-speaker for Light Bearers.

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