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The Problem With Resilience

Me with my brother before a race.


Resilience is a good thing. It’s a positive term and something we admire. There’s nothing wrong with or bad about becoming resilient.


Of course not.


However, there is a “problem” regarding resilience; it only comes through resistance.


In other words, there is only one way to become stronger, tougher, and more resilient: pain.


By definition, to be resilient means “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” And in case you’re wondering, the key words in that explanation are difficult conditions.


You can’t become more robust by coasting through life. You don’t get tougher when everything goes your way. Resilience is never developed in a vacuum. 


There is a saying by Lao-Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, that goes something like this: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 




But what Lao-Tzu didn’t tell you is that the journey of a thousand miles is fraught with a thousand trials. You will struggle and, at times, suffer.



Though life is often challenging, the truth is resilience is the result of resistance. 


So, and pardon the adapted Star Trek quote, “Resistance is not futile, it’s fruitful.”


We take a step, fail, get the wind knocked out of us, bleed a bit, but get back up and take another step, which is how we become resilient.


And for the record, the best reason for getting back up is to remember that as we struggle and suffer, we are molded into the image of Christ. 


That’s why Paul wrote that trials develop perseverance (i.e., resilience) which builds our character. And it’s why he said that our troubles and difficulties produce “an eternal, weighty glory” in us.


As the saying goes, we can get bitter or better when life hits the fan; the choice is ours.


As a rule, we would rather take the path of least resistance, but it truly is the narrow and difficult way that leads to life.


I’ve finished two marathons in my life. Do you know how you prepare for a 26.2-mile road race? You start where you’re at, and you commit to training six out of seven days a week, even in the wind, rain, and snow. Then, every week, you run a little farther and a little faster. 


On race day, you resist the temptation to quit. You resist the doubts about why you ever decided to run 138,336 feet in a single day. You resist the tendency to focus on your blisters or your oxygen-deprived muscles.


You resisted in training, and it made you stronger, more resilient. And that resilience carried you forward to the finish line.


My first marathon in Portland, OR.


I love this quote by one of the greatest preachers of all time, Charles Spurgeon, “By perseverance, the snail reached the ark!” So true.


2020 was a challenging year.


So far, 2021 is a bit better but still filled with lots of questions and plenty of struggles. 


What are you going to do?


You can quit. Throw in the towel. Give up on yourself, and give up on God. Or you can keep moving even though it feels like you’re wading through waist-deep mud.


And I promise: If you keep moving forward, even an inch at a time, you won’t regret it, but if you resign rather than resist, you absolutely will.


Here’s my BPV (Bubna Paraphrase Version) of James 1:2-3: “Count it all joy when life sucks and watch what God will do in and through you.”


So stay the course, my friend.




And snail on.


Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 5 Comments

    1. KurtBubna

      Glad it blessed you, Noah. You are loved!

  1. Kay Anderson

    So true and I needed the reminder! Thanks Kurt!

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