Resiliency is the ability to return to your original position. A porcelain doll is not resilient, but a rubber ball is. If you throw a porcelain doll on the ground it will shatter. Throw a rubber ball down, kick it, stomp it, abuse it, and it will return to its original shape. John Ortberg, in his book, “If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat,” says a major theme that characterizes resilient people is their surprising exercise of self-control in a stress-filled environment.
Many POW’s and hostages reported that the single most stressful aspect of their captivity was the realization that they had lost control over their existence. Those who lapsed into a state of passive acceptance, what observers of the Korean prison camps of the 1950s called “give-up-itis,” were the least likely to survive the camps and recover. Amazingly, losing control over their lives was more critical to their psychological well-being than their more obvious sufferings, threats, hunger, beatings, & isolation.
The POW’s who triumphed over adversity shared a common trait: they managed to reassert a sense of command over their future. Instead of becoming indifferent they focused as much attention as possible on whatever possibilities for having self-control. Prisoners would place themselves on strenuous exercise regiments, memorization of stories, or invent new games. Some commanded their time by keeping a careful census of insects in their cell. They ingeniously defied their captives’ orders not to communicate with each other. Some developed secret signals such as taps on the wall that stood for letters of the alphabet. One prisoner used strokes of his broom to send messages in code, another sent messages by dragging his sandal. The POW’s encouraged each other by reminding themselves that their body may be captured but their spirit is free.
Here’s the key: the POW’s were resilient because they kept their minds active. They focused on what was good rather than on their captivity. Resiliency is the power to focus on hope and optimism. For, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
Scientists have studied people who survived traumatic ordeals when life did not turn out the way they planned. They found that people generally respond in one of two ways: many are simply defeated by trauma then some are identified by resiliency. Those who are resilient actually enlarge their capacity to handle problems and in the end not only endure but increase immensely.
A must-read, for anyone who has experienced trauma or feels like giving up, is Daniel. In chapter one, four young men have been taken into captivity then forced to come under the conditions of a foreign king. And instead of giving into hopelessness they keep their focus and remain true to their spiritual values. Being resilient moves them right into the palace. This Bible story reveals the power of having self-control. For more info you can visit us at www.JoyChristianMinistries.com
Pastor J.C. Myers, III
Pastor J.C. founded Joy Christian Ministries in 1992. He was Sr. Pastor at Joy Christian Ministries in West Sacramento, California from 1992-2016. He was succeeded by his 2nd son, Pastor Brandon Myers who had been under his father's ministry and teaching for 39 years.