‘Resilience’ is a quality and value especially esteemed in our local schools. In the face of continuing frustration, difficulty, distraction and danger for many, the ability to persevere and ‘carry on regardless’ is much needed. Thomas Edison, before getting his celebrated electric light to work, had a workman declare the task impossible. “How often have you tried?” asked Edison, “2,000 times!” came the weary reply. “Go back and try 2,000 times more, you’ve only found 2,000 ways in which it cannot be done!” Edison is the man credited with the expression, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!”
Experience and ‘insight’ can prompt wise ‘flight’ rather than full-hardy ‘fight’, the ability to stop and relinquish a potentially damaging pursuit. Many marriages and friendships are dashed on the rocks of an obsession. But, in whatever field, whether it’s in the Olympics, studies, skill-sharpening, fitness, or simply survival, success requires resilience and a ‘stick-at-it’ spirit, whatever comes against you. A vital ingredient for such perseverance is ‘Hope’. Without even a glimmer of hope it is very hard to continue. From painful personal experience, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn vividly described the awful sub-zero temperatures, cruelty and starvation of Russian Concentration Camps. He observed that it was ‘not’ the muscular and surface strong who survived and overcame the odds, rather people of ‘Faith’ and ‘Hope’. Here’s how St Paul put it,
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Belief, Experience, Support and Truth (BEST) can all help feed our hope of a future worth working, fighting, and living for. The atheist and mountaineer ‘Joe Simpson’ fell to almost certain death. The belief that there is ‘no life beyond death’ drove him to cross ice-crevices and crawl, broken legged, an inch at a time five miles to safety. Such ‘inch by inch’ progress, for some pupils, students and sports people is comparable to the painstaking progress towards passing their exams or competing well!
It’s the same in all walks of life. Without ‘Hope’ we are ‘Hopeless’! Do the steps between now and the realisation of your aims, dreams and aspirations appear too many, even unbearable, for you right now? Perhaps pandemic has knocked the stuffing out of you, and you’ve lost hope of a positive future? It doesn’t matter how fit and trim you manage to shape your body and being, without positive hope we will sink. And key to understanding the verses above is ‘the Love which God pours into our hearts by His Holy Spirit’. It is the realisation, appreciation, and acceptance that God intimately and passionately loves you, which can help us to process suffering into character and the passionate patience (perseverance) to work and wait for future hope. Such Love, shown especially through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, can feed faith and hope like nothing else. And it’s 100% Grace, Gratis, Gift!