Spiritual Matters

Finding Hope Inside Out

The past is not a good place to live. You would agree with that, right? We can no more go back to make things "like the old days" then I can return to being 25 (and frankly I wouldn't want to). However we can learn from the past and put those lessons into practice in the days to come.

It's in that light I look back briefly to the tornado.

Since then, things have changed. Some of those things are obvious: new roofs, new buildings, a new school and some new debt.

But many of the changes are not so obvious. For myself, it's been a new focus of ministry. I've been asked on more than one occasion to help with other disaster recoveries. In fact, this article comes as I work with the Red River Valley "Emotional and Spiritual Well-being" subcommittee of the Red River Resilience Group. As I learned about resilience I've come to see this as a life skill which we need all the time, and as something which our relationship to Christ can bolster.

First off, what is "resilience"? Put simply, it is the "ability to bounce back." The National Resiliency Resource Center (NRRC) at the University of Minnesota calls resiliency, "the human capacity to navigate life." I like what the NRRC has to say and, in fact, I took their seminar title as the heading to this column. The NRRC says that humans have resilience within them so that the search for hope and help isn't "out there" someplace, but starts within and among ourselves. I believe the NRRC is right, and as a Christian, I believe we have something to add to this truth.

First, God created us as creatures of hope and promise. The NRRC says everyone is "at promise" instead of "at risk." God sees potential within each one of us, and has instilled the ability to be flexible and bounce back from difficult circumstances.

Certainly our sins and shortcomings have messed up God's intentions. But His creative power still shines through us. What God created us to be is still there, still able to help us. But not only did God create us with inner resilience and hope, he also offers us more.

Second, God gave us Jesus, described in Colossians as "Christ in us, the hope of glory." God sent His only Son to this earth, not just to stand outside of us and cast judgment. Jesus comes to live within us, as our Savior, Lord and Guide. The intent of Jesus is to restore us to the image of God, to the way the Creator made us in the first place.

How does this work for us? When we face difficult circumstances or merely the routine stresses of life, we need to know we are created as people of promise, strength, and bounce-back ability. Within us and among us are the strengths and gifts we need to make it through and to thrive.

But God didn't leave us merely to the abilities He gave us. We have, if by faith we'll take it, the resources of the one who loved us enough to come to earth and die for us. Because the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within those who put faith in Christ, that strength also mostly comes from within our hearts.

Let us realize some truths.

  • First, difficult times will come to us and push us.

  • Second, God created us with unique and resilient inner strength.

  • Third, the helping power of the Holy Spirit is available to us.

  • Fourth, all these things are true for others too.

Mark S. Ellingson,

This information provided by Red River Resilience (May, 2011).

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