I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Resilience and persistence often work hand and hand. While resilience refers to bouncing back after enduring a crisis, persistence refers to the ability to steadfastly pursue an objective despite opposition, delays, or other disadvantages. Both resilience and persistence are important because one must not only recover from a setback but have the endurance to continue and not give up.
Persistence naturally requires being resilient, as you can’t persist if you never get back up. On the other hand, it is important not to take persistence to the extreme. It may seem reasonable to keep going when the odds are stacked against us, but there are times when we just need to learn to let go.
Strategies for Handling Adversity
When adversity rears its head, it is wise to follow some predetermined guidelines as to how you will cope. Here are some strategies that have helped me to overcome many problems.
• Maintain a good attitude. “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble!” Job proclaims in Job 14:1. Trouble is inevitable, but it is also a tool that produces spiritual, emotional, and psychological strength. When we resist the temptation to feel that our trials are unfair and resist the pressure to respond in a negative way, we develop the “mental muscle” needed to overcome whatever obstacles arise. We learn to analyze the situation, ask for divine assistance, and anticipate a positive outcome.
• Believe in the God who resides within you. Often in the face of adversity, our self-esteem takes a hit. Don’t allow any circumstances to make you feel less worthy. Your challenges do not define you. Adversity is just an experience; it is not your identity. Whatever happens, you are strong enough to regain control over your life. You simply need to remember that with God you can do all things.
• Rely on your support network. Everyone can get down occasionally. During these times, you can rely on your support network to cheer you on and encourage you to get back up again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Rely on colleagues, friends, or loved ones to help get you through hard times. Challenges are easier to handle when we have someone to talk to. The people in our support group can remind us of who we are when adversity tempts us to forget. Nurture your support group and do not forget that support goes both ways. Be there for others during their trying times.
• Don’t be overly critical of yourself. Beware of allowing your mistakes or any setback to define who you are. You are not a failure if you lose your job or get passed over for a high-profile role. You still have worth and value, and you just need to get back up and prove it. Every defeat gives you the chance to learn from your mistakes, if any, and be wiser in the future.
• Don’t be afraid to accept responsibility. Sometimes adversity seems to come inexplicably out of the blue; other times, it comes as a result of our own actions. If you find that you have made unwise decisions, don’t let this incapacitate you. Accept responsibility for your part in creating the problem and learn from your mistakes. Prepare a game plan to take those necessary next steps.
• Don’t neglect self-care. Ironically, the key to resilience is first learning how to stop rather than forge ahead. It is essential to take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising are critical. Most importantly, the time spent in the empowering presence of God and his Word will reap big dividends.
We often underestimate our ability to recover from challenging situations, but most people are far more resilient than they give themselves credit for. Many of us have already made significant accomplishments that required resilience. Often, it’s just a matter of looking back and evaluating past successes. Success in one area breeds confidence in other areas. It is often fear that holds us back from being either resilient or persistent; however, most situations aren’t as bad as we think they are. They are certainly not too hard for our omnipotent God.