When we find ourselves in places of pressure, how do we build resilience and rise above to thrive?
Hey, everybody. Great to see you. If you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, the lead pastor here at Cornerstone. For those of you who have been a part of our online journey that we’ve been making through this unique season, you will notice something already, and that is, I am in a different location. Yes. I realize that for some of us, this is an adjustment. But we felt as we began this series, this idea of building resilience, that we wanted to also make a shift. Actually, I’m up here on the third floor in our mission building. I’m sharing with you from a new location.
Even now, Lord, I just ask for you to be present among us as we continue to make this journey together, seeking to build resilience into our lives and into our hearts in these uniquely polarized times where so much is coming at us from all kinds of different directions. We welcome you, Lord Jesus, into this moment and into this place.
Resilience, what do we mean by it? We talk about the word resilience. It actually has a root. The word itself goes all the way back to the 1620s. I know. Wow. That’s amazing. Resilience has to do with literally the act of rebounding if you want to get to its core meaning. It comes from a [inaudible 00:02:25] in the Latin from Brazilians [inaudible 00:02:31]. The idea of recoil is contained in it, the idea of reap back, [inaudible 00:02:37] to jump to leap. It really does describe the two components of the concept of resilience, right? One of the ideas that we should connect with resilience has to do with bounce back, the ability to bounce back.
Think of a ball bouncing back or a piece of grass that’s stepped on picking back up. The other aspect of this meaning of this word has to do with the idea of bending, but not breaking. In my mind, I always think of a palm tree, which I find amazingly resilient, and how that palm tree can just bend with the wind, right? Sometimes it even grows in that direction, but it doesn’t break. In our minds, we need to think about these images as we explore the concept of resilience because I truly do believe that God wants us to be a resilient people. This series though is not just about resilience. It’s about building resilience. It’s about learning how to do things better and how to recover, how to adapt. We’re going to be using the life story. I’m going to kick back into it, the life story of Joseph as relayed to us from the book of Genesis as a template. It’s sort of a continuation of where we left off with the up and over series.
His story is so amazing. It’s just layered with and filled with twists and turn, and riddled with disappointments and setbacks. Even more, it has a lot of comebacks, and that’s what I want for all of us, is to enhance our ability to bounce back, come back. Now going back to Joseph, let’s do this together into the book of Genesis. As a young man, he had been given dreams about being a deliverer and how his family would all bow to him. He said it out of a naivete when he shared. Not everything that we receive is meant to be shared right away. People don’t always understand, and I’m not trying to create something strange or weird. It’s just Joseph didn’t seem to have a lot of relational discernment, or we might call it social IQ.
He just said what was on his mind. He shared his dream thoughtlessly with his brothers and his father. It had to do with them all bowing down to him, and it wasn’t well-received. His brothers despised him even more for what they perceive to be his arrogance. His father, Jacob, who deeply loved Joseph, the son of his youth, the son of Rachel, the one whom he loved, was also taken aback by what to seemed to be a kind of audacity connected to Joseph and his dreams. But the dreams were from God. They were from the one who holds the future and the past in His hands as if it were today. For to God, 1,000 years is as a day, and a day, 1,000 years.
Time has a very different meaning to God than it does to us. Right? Those dreams would indeed come to pass. But between the giving of those dreams and their fulfillment, would be many years, something that I call a long uncertain space. Have you ever had them? A long uncertain space? For Joseph, it was the space between when he received those dreams and their fulfillment. Along the way, that journey things didn’t go so well. There are going to be moments along the way, and some of them we already explored in our previous series where he had deep pain, real loss, true despair. Perhaps some of us can relate to that in our own lives right now, where we may be feeling some of those things.
If you’ve experienced loss in this season, then you understand. Some of us have had to wrestle with loss in the midst of a very confining place. This is hard. I’ve talked to some of you who’ve lost loved ones. Even we heard last week about Howex and her parents are suffering and dying. In some cases, we’ve had people who’ve had loved ones pass. This is not an easy time and it’s a hard time. Some of us have experienced genuine loss, and that’s not always easy to recover from. Some of us have been very discouraged, very despairing, sparing around just the nature of the dialogue and the tension points of the culture and the polarization that is only increasing and will continue to do so, I suspect, as we make our way into the year.
That’s not even bringing into account the COVID, and I’m not trying to be negative. I’m just being really honest. In Joseph’s case, at times, in the language of the scripture, he was indeed tested by the word of the Lord. There were times when it would have been so easy for Joseph to quit. You guys, it would have been so easy to quit, give up, and yield to the negativity and the bitter disappointment, and in his case, just lay down and die. Right? But there are two things about him that really stand out that just emerged from the relief. Two things that I think are really worth noting. One, the Lord was with him, which that’s a great thing.
That’s a wonderful thing. The Lord is with us, just like Jesus is with you and with me in this time. But the other part of Joseph worth noting is he embraced a stubborn faith. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to call it, a stubborn faith. He was a model of resiliency. He was. He is if I can put it this way, the Bible’s bounce-back kid. That’s Joseph, the Bible’s bounce-back kid. Even in my mind, perhaps greater than the only other rival in the older testament that I can even think of that could compare to him. I think about what Paul walked through. Of course, Jesus, no one can really match what the Lord did, the grace. But in the older testament, the only one that I can think of that was even close to Joseph would be Job.
Joseph still stands out in my mind is as a type of Christ, an Old Testament model of the New Testament approach to walking through adversity and trusting God. We’re going to talk about him as the Lord allows us to do so. Even as we are making our way back to gathering, we’re going to just spend time sitting with the life of Joseph. Learning from it and strengthening our capacity for resilience so that we are able to better face anything that is thrown at us or that we have to deal with so that we don’t run away. But rather, with God’s help and strength, we stand and we learn and we grow and we find the opportunities even in the adversity. I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone.
This is the place I too must take. But what I want to do right now is shift back or shift over, I should say, to a portion of scripture. I’d like to direct our attention to the 105th Psalm. It’s a wonderful foundational song for understanding biblical principles that have to do with building resilience. If you can make this little walk with me, there will be some wonderful nuggets or applications for us to immediately employ in our own life. Let’s just read this together. You can feel free to just read it out loud or revisit it. I know a lot of us take notes or a lot of us now are taking shots of the notes when they go up. All of that’s fine and really appropriate.
But in Psalm 105, we are told, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him. Tell of all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name. Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.” From the very beginning, as we see in this Psalm, I want to submit to you that one of the keys for building resilience, especially as it relates to the Lord at work in our life, and this is a great tool for us guys, is to give thanks, sing praise, give Him glory, and listen. It is to rejoice. It is to rejoice. We’re talking about a life that is characterized by intentional gratitude, optimism, and joy.
Even though we may have unique characters and some of us are more sanguine, some of us are more melancholy, some of us are more extroverted, some of us are more introverted, some of us are ambiverts, wherever we are in the spectrum of things, one of the things we know is that the Lord invites us into a life of joy in every situation. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice. I was reading a quote from Author Brene Brown, and she was talking about what she calls joy collecting. That actually fascinated me. I wrote this down. She said, “Joy collected over time fuels resilience, ensuring we will have a reservoir of hope, emotional strength when the hard times do happen. Joy collected over time fuels resilience, ensuring we will have a reservoir of emotional strength when the hard times do happen.”
I mean, this is really a powerful concept, joy collecting. I talk about prayer collecting and that is when I’m in a situation that is hard to figure out, I love to collect prayers because I believe those prayers make a difference, that prayer moves things and invites God into our situations in intentional ways, creates the possibility for a breakthrough. Jesus even said by faith, by articulating our trust, we can move mountains. The power of God is at work there. But the idea of joy collecting? That was an interesting concept to me, and I want to sit with that for a moment. The Lord wants us to build joy inside of our lives so that … and almost an irrepressible optimism based around who He is and His love for us, that when we find ourselves in places of confinement, disappointment, or great pain, that we are able to pull from that reservoir.
One of the keys to enlarging the work of joy in our lives, right? If we’re to be a joy collector, then one of the key ways to gain joy is to praise. Praising the Lord is a powerful mechanism for releasing joy. That’s why we are invited to do it, to say praise you, Lord. I like to say praise Him. The bottom line is when we become like the things we worship and the things that we praise affect us in a very significant way. That’s why I so look forward to the time when I’m to be able to all sing together in ways that we have in the past. This is a very important part of the Christian life, to be able to sing out our praise to the Lord. Not only is it a command, but it’s also an invitation because there’s power in it. Praise releases joy. Joy collecting is so important.
When we find ourselves in dark defeated places, it can hold us and get us through in a way. I will say it this way, praising the Lord … Praise is a joy generator. Praise to the Lord is like a spiritual fuel injection. It can help us in a significant way when we choose to articulate our love and trust for the Lord and who He is, right? Henry Austin wrote, “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” I love that too. “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” That’s what we do because we are a people who know the Lord and the Lord lives with us. Sing anyway. In fact, look at verse four of Psalm 105, “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually.” Wow. “Seek the Lord and His strength,” that is intentionally ask Him for power to prevail and then pursue His presence in our lives, which is a fascinating concept to seek, to pursue.
It implies effort and intention. Do you see that? Effort and intention. In times of hardship, we must set our focus in that direction. Are there areas right now where you are feeling a tremendous amount of weight and pressure? Are there pressure points? Some of you have been listening to the Rise and Shine. You’ve heard me talk about this. These pressure points really do remind us that we are to respond to them in prayer and praise. That the best thing that I can do in the midst of a pressure point is to pray and praise. Pray because I’m saying to the Lord, “I need you. I welcome you, and I desire you, and I release your power at work in my life,” and praise because it keeps my spirit in a right place, a place of joy and optimism, a place that is leaning into the promises of God and all the hope that is entailed in them.
I think you understand what I’m saying. I hope you do. Jesus said if we ask, it will be given to us. Think about that. “Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” That is not a passive way of following. That is an invitation to the intentional life of cultivating a relationship with the Lord. I am saying that at a time like this, we need this more than ever. We really do. These are keys to building resilience. I’ve been giving you a lot of quotes. I’m going to give you one more. This one is from Alexander Graham Bell. He said, “Sometimes we stare so long at a door.” He was on an adventure, right? The highest level of creativity. “Sometimes,” he says, “we stare so long at a door that is closing, that we see too late the one that is opening.”
Think about that. Turning to Him and seeking the Lord gives us the ability to see when the door is opening. It really does. Instead of being fixated and defeated by the one that is closing. My question is; are we staring at the right things? Are we pursuing the right things? Is our mindset zeroed in on the right things? This is a critical question for us to look at and respond to, right? Turning to the Lord is so important, and when we do it, it becomes like a mechanism for staying hopeful and optimistic. I so deeply want to see you, both my church and those of you who’ve connected to Cornerstone along the way, maybe in different places in the country, and then even in the parts of the world, and I really truly want to see you prevail. I want to see you be okay.
I want to see you healthy and come through this time. It’s my prayer for all of us, my sincere, honest, authentic desire is for your wellbeing. Spirit, soul, and body. I talk about it all the time. Okay, let’s go back. Let’s look at verse five. Look at verse five with me. This Psalm goes on to say, “Remember the wondrous works that He has done.” Again, resilience principles. “Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered.” Notice the power here, another principle for building resilience, the power of remembering, look at that, and its connection, especially for followers of Jesus to resilience. What am I saying? Another thing that we can put into practice is remembering God’s provisions.
If we have a past life with the Lord, if we’ve been following Him, and I realize some of us are just starting to follow Jesus, so we may not be able to draw off of too many things. Others of us, we’re right on the verge of making a commitment to receive Jesus into our hearts. If you’ve never done that, I encourage you to do it now. Just say, “Lord, I want you to be in my heart. Come and be my savior. Forgive me of my sins and let your presence just indwell my life in such a way that I can commit myself to follow you.” Then down the line, you know what? We’d love to help you and get baptized, and become part of a confessing community of those who love the Lord.
For those of us who do have an experience to draw from, it’s so important for us to periodically (this is why I do think there’s a value in journaling and writing out our prayers), remember God’s provisions in the past when things are hard and seem daunting. I have found myself doing this more than a few times. I’ve had to draw back into my past and remind myself of God’s faithfulness. Again, remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles, and His judgments that He has uttered. I find myself going back into His words and allow them to hold me. I remind myself how there have been times where God’s words have been to me like a lifeline.
They’ve kept me afloat, a lifesaver in a time of trouble and tumult. How God has a pattern of deliverance. You know this. Many of you are aware of this. It has happened to you. The Lord has shown up for you in amazing ways, and God has been present in some of the worst seasons of our lives. That is why it is important for us to remember. We would do well to remember. Remember, rehearse, right? Recall and recite. By the way, that is just a good thing to do for us when it comes to the scriptures. Everybody’s yelling these days, everybody has an opinion, everybody seems to be angry. I don’t know. It’s a bit of an overstatement, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s not.
How important is it for us to be grounded in God’s word right now? In the scriptures, in the teachings of Christ, in the epistles, in the older testament that we’re sitting with? Do we see how valuable it is to remember, rehearse, recite, to recall how this is such a helpful part of the Christian life? Some of us, I can do it too, we have a tendency to replay the bad. But I think the Lord is inviting us. I know that’s what this Psalm is doing, to replay the good. Yeah, replay the good. Some of us are really good at replaying the bad. I mean, we do it really well, right? Whoop! Back on that loop again. But God wants us to replay the good, God wants us to be a people who are reminding ourselves again and again of God’s favor, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness that we just embed ourselves in His word.
What a way to build resilience in our lives. Spiritual resilience that allows us to go up and over and become stronger people? To be able to overcome in ways that actually produce growth in life and blessing. Let’s put God’s goodness on the replay loop. Let’s do that. I’ll say it this way. Here’s a concept. Remember His works of the past, His miracle, His principles. Become a student of God and the life of Christ and heroes of faith. I’m just going to push this one more step further because we’re talking about how to build resilience, spiritually, emotionally. Right? We’re talking about this in our mindsets. Remember His works of the past, His miracles, His principles. Become a student of God. Really learn and settle into the life of Jesus.
That’s why we need the gospels. It’s so important. Don’t forget the value in also walking with the heroes of the faith, especially those in the older testament that sometimes we just relegate to the past. The Bible reminds us in the New Testament, the newer testament that the people of the older testament can be models for us on how to live a life of overcoming faith. Look at verse six, it just ties right into it. “Oh, offspring of Abraham, His servant, children of Jacob, His chosen ones, remember your heritage.” Look at that. Right? That’s what he’s saying, basically. “He is the Lord, our God. His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever. The word that He commanded for 1,000 generations,” that is, He’s faithful to a 1,000 generations.
Remember His faithfulness over the course of time. Again, another building resilience principle. Remember His faithfulness over the course of time, cultivate a long view historical perspective and not just a present one. If we only focus on the present situation that we’re all finding ourselves in right now, we’re going to get depressed. I’m confident of that. If I just zero in right now on what’s going on in these times, oh my goodness. I’m just going to find myself angry and discouraged. Honestly, I need to keep my mindset in the long haul. But not just the long haul, the future, but also looking backward in the past. Have a historical perspective. I mean, we could say an eternal perspective, but just from the standpoint of God’s faithfulness that has been proven for generations, because that’s what this verse is reminding us to do.
To remember God’s faithfulness that has been proven for generations, and if we do it, it will continue when ours is passed, right? But in ours, as of this moment now as well. So remembering God’s faithfulness generations ago can help us in our life now. It is going to continue on honestly, unless the Lord returns first after we leave this world as we know it, and go to our home where the Lord has promised because of who He is and His resurrection power, that there are better days ahead. We do not live in fear or hopelessness. Never, ever. Nor are we bound or defined by the situations that are around us. “For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen, they are eternal.”
Okay. Verse seven, and watch what the Psalmist does using Israel as his example. Then watch where it takes us because I have a reason for using Psalm 105. It’s not just because of the concepts themselves. Watch what happens here. Speaking of God’s faithfulness in the generations, “He is the Lord, our God,” verse seven, “His judgments are in all the years. He remembers His covenant forever. The word that He commanded for 1,000 generations, the covenant that He made with Abraham, His sworn promise to Isaac, which He confirmed to Jacob as a statute to Israel, as an everlasting covenant saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance,’ when they were few in number, of little accountants, sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. He allowed no one to oppress them. He rebuked kings on their account saying, ‘Touch not my anointed ones. Do my prophets no harm.'”
Then watch how Psalm 105 shifts to Joseph, right? Look at this, and it’s where we’re going, “When He summoned a famine on the land and broke all the supply of bread, He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave, his feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron. He was sold by his brothers. Until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” This takes us full circle, doesn’t it? It hearkens back to the most painful moment in the life of Joseph, the pain reflected in these verses. Years later, Joseph’s father, Jacob, described God’s favor over Joseph in this way, and it’s recorded in Genesis 49, so years after the word of the Lord tested him.
He says this in verse 22, Genesis 49, that Jacob said this about Joseph, and the spirit of the Lord was on this word, “Joseph is a fruitful bow, a fruitful bow by a spring.” Some translations, by the way, render it a fruitful vine. “His branches run over a wall.” There’s the up and over. “The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, harassed him severely. Yet his bow remained unmoved. His arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” Two metaphors that speak to Joseph and resilience. One that you can’t miss, the archers shot at him. He’s a man under attack. But as a man under attack, he stayed steady. God made his arms like the agile and gave him the ability with the strength of the Mighty One to prevail.
What a description. Think about it this way. “The Lord held his hands,” The Psalmist says, “and made them strong and agile.” Perhaps some of us can see the Lord holding our hands in such a way that they are strong and agile. Agility speaks of being quick and easy and fluid and nimble. Joseph’s faith was agile and steady even under enormous duress, disappointment, and adversity. The Lord can do that with us as well. His hands can hold our hands so that they are agile and capable of finding a way through things. Do you understand what I’m saying? The other metaphor, which is my favorite, a fruitful bow by a spring, the branches run over, right? Again, some have rendered it a fruitful vine, the image of a vine growing up and over a wall. Every time an obstacle hit, he grew over it.
Every time the disappointment came, Joseph went over it. It is a picture of resilience with an upward trend, and that’s where I know God wants to take us. He wants us to learn, listen, loved ones, not just how to survive, which is good, but to thrive, which is better. Our goal is not survival. That is at times legitimate. There were times where I think Joseph was doing everything he could just to survive and not allow his spirit to be corrupted and defeated. As I said, he probably was tempted to just lay down and die and give up, but he didn’t. He wanted to trust in God. He retained a desire to honor the Lord wherever he could in whatever way he could.
He retained an essential hopefulness, and it allowed him not simply to survive but to thrive. I know that’s the Lord’s will for us in this season. I don’t know how long this season is going to last. It’s going to play itself out. We’re going to go there together, Lord willing. But I do know this, God’s desire for us is not only that we would build our resilience, not only that we simply survive, that’s a good thing, but then we would actually thrive, grow, expand, become a deeper person, more attuned to His words at work in our lives, more capable of adapting, prevailing, overcoming, and being a blesser. Think about these things. We’re going to have a time of giving, and the closing song it’s connected to this word.
I thank you, by the way, all of you who’ve been significantly faithful. Yes, you have in your giving. Some of you, because we know, you can give online and some of you’ve been sending things in the traditional way. You can give through the app. The point that I more wanted to make here is that I wanted to commend our church community for really honoring the Lord and being exceptionally faithful during this time. You guys have shown up in an amazing way, and I’m so grateful for that. I’ll come back around and I’ll finish this out with a blessing. The goal is not just to survive, but to thrive. That’s God’s desire for all of us. It really is. I want us to be aware of that, thinking about it, praying into that, believing for it.
The Lord doesn’t just want us to get through something, He wants us to what? You know it, grow through it. The season will pass. It will. Now, some things are going to change and not go back to what they were, but a lot of things will. The key in my mind is can we go back in such a way when this has passed us by where we can be able to say that Lord this was a season of growth in my life. I learned to be more empathetic, I learned to trust you in ways that I didn’t before, I learned to understand a little bit more of your faithfulness in my own frailty, and through it all, I’ve been able to grow with the wall. Yeah. Remember, He’s so good and He’s so God. He wants you to be so good and so God. My prayer for all of us is the Lord keep us, spirit, soul, and in our bodies, and don’t forget you are greatly loved, in Jesus name.