January 3, 2023
“Rise Again” Faith
May 17, 2022 | Jaci Miller
On my desk at work resides a squishy toy. A stress ball, only it’s rodent-shaped (the kind you go “aw” over, not the kind you squash.) A cartoon squirrel.
When I’m stressed or bored or my hands can’t type another word, I reach for my squishy squirrel and squeeze!
His face mashes, his tail droops and his belly compacts. Yet as hard as I squeeze, when I release him, he pops back. His face, his tail, his belly. They boing back into position.
My squirrel has resilience.
I must ask myself, “Do I have that kind of spiritual agility?”
Do I bounce back after taking a hit? Or do I sit in a heap like an old bean bag chair? Some days the bean bag feels far more familiar.
Yet, Proverbs 24:16 says, “… For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”
So, how do I develop this kind of resilience? The kind that “rises again”?
“Rise again” faith interestingly parallels the Resurrection story of Jesus.
John 20:19 shows us disciples who lacked resilience. Hiding in fear, leaderless, the disciples were cowering, their faith perhaps at its lowest ebb. The journey of resilience (that would carry them through persecution and suffering for the Gospel) began for them here.
- They spent time in Jesus’ presence. He appeared to them and they rejoiced in it. Similarly, when we are being squeezed, we can’t neglect to spend time with Jesus. Joy and hope exist with Him. John 20:19-21 shows us this. John 20:24 also shows us what happens when we miss out on His presence. Thomas was absent at Jesus’ appearance to the disciples and he doubted the Resurrection; he doubted the word of those to whom he was closest. If we long for “rise again” faith, time with the author of that faith is critical. But even in his doubt, Thomas got one thing right.
- He looked for the evidence. When Thomas struggled, he sought the hands and feet of Christ (John 20:24-28). In the same way, when we struggle to rise again, we can look to the evidence and remember what God has done. A resilient faith has a long memory of God’s goodness. And since God is good, He will have that track record. In that goodness, Jesus provides something for us to pursue.
- He gave the disciples a purpose. Jesus gave the disciples a mission. Here, He is bringing to fulfillment the purpose that echoed all through His three years with them. To go spread the Gospel. In verse 21, He says, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus reminded them of their calling.
What has God called each of us to do? What specific purpose has He given you on this earth? Resilient faith, a faith that rises again, focuses on the plan God has laid, not on the squishing, squeezing of life. Resilient faith directs its focus to the hope of the future, not the problems of the past. When the squeezing ends, we will still be fixed on our God-given goals.
I want to be so firmly grounded that whatever circumstances life or the enemy throw at me would not disfigure my faith but renew it.
My squishy squirrel reminds me to rebound with grace and hope. Resilient faith is possible. Boing!