If you have raced with people
and are worn out,
how will you compete with horses?
If you are at ease only when in a peaceful land,
how will you survive in the forest
along the Jordan?
Imagine receiving an invitation to a party that says, “This is not your type of party. In fact, you’ll be miserable. But you will gain so much. You will learn so much about yourself, you will make close friends who ease the frustration, and you will stick to your principles.” Resilience is about knowing when to accept the invitation to adversity—not to go out seeking adversity for the sake of being noble, or self-righteous, or the perfect student of suffering. But to understand when adversity is part of the process of becoming. Jeremiah (the one who bought the field on Day #1) knew this. He committed his life to advocating for justice and the prosperity of his homeland and, when that failed, to teaching his city resilience. It’s exhausting work. Early on, Jeremiah complained of fatigue–the above verse is God’s response. It’s irritating advice. But it’s irritating because someone—in this case the Architect of the Universe—has more confidence in you than you do in yourself. Someone else believes, in the words of folk songwriter Carrie Newcomer, “You can do this hard thing.” Sometimes the only way through is through. Sometimes it’s worth it to compete against the horses, even if you lose, because you will gain something greater: Love. Integrity. Resilience.
Takeaway: What adversity are you avoiding? Maybe it’s a difficult conversation with a friend, a restructuring of your budget, a confrontation with a coworker. Whatever it is, today write yourself an invitation to adversity. Take 10 minutes and begin, “Dear [Self], You are invited to….” Remember, the ultimate invitation is to persistence—you are invited to this season of challenge because it will strengthen you and your community, because it is necessary work, because you are hopeful and worthy and present for the challenge ahead.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).