The Personal Quality of Resilience

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1:20-22 NIV

Much has been written about the character traits that defined Job’s trying experience.  As a man who could self-identify as righteous, he lived a life that reflected the best of God’s blessings.  His earthly undoing at the hands of Satan represented the deepest type of loss that any person can suffer – death of family and loss of material comfort/wealth.  He was brought to a junction of decision.  He was faced with a dilemma that many of us encounter, namely the requirement to trust God when all that we placed security in has been suddenly removed and the choice to move on without closure and without divine explanation for our misfortune.

I have wondered how I would have responded, had I been in Job’s place.  Many times, even though I recognize the importance of character-building challenge, I pray for such sudden calamity to pass my door.  I do not want to experience the depth of grief, loss, and pain that this man underwent.

The passage above demonstrates a quality that is in modern circulation.  This quality is resilience.  How do people undergo similar hardship and respond so differently?  Some people, placed in Job’s shoes, would have cavitated under the opacity, incongruence, and inconsistency of the apparent logic.  How could I be such a good person and suffer such devastation?  In fact, Job’s friends applied the logic in reverse.  Clearly, he had done something so displeasing to God that he deserved this outcome, they argued.

Resilience within the modern context has been widely studied.  There seems to be broad agreement that an intrapsychic resilient quality produces the type of situational resilience required during times of crisis.  There is also broad agreement that this quality is developed through a mix of internal valuations, exposure to modeled behaviors and incremental opportunities that foster development (of the quality).  Job had an internal perspective that allowed him to utter the statement above, a recognition of God’s sovereignty and an avoidance of attributing sudden outcomes to personal shortcomings.  Pictorially, I see this as a solid and impervious core that existed in his soul that could not allow untruths (about God and him) to take root.  No matter his circumstance, he operated from this core.  Its immutable character allowed his outlook to result in the author testifying that “in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”  He didn’t arrive at this action randomly.  It was the result of a painstaking effort, over time, to build this central core.

How have you responded to the crises in your life?  What truths/untruths about God lie at your core?  What truths/untruths about you lie at your core?  Consider spending time in Scripture fashioning a truthful picture of both and investing in the creation of an impervious core that can boost your ability to be resilient.

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