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Building Emotional Resilience in the Face of Suffering




“Suffering actually has the potential to form us into more resilient people.” 

Dr. Curt Thompson 


No one is exempt from suffering. We all have hardship and loss to grieve. Rarely do we get excited about the opportunity to suffer. Instead of running toward suffering, we run away from it. Instead of embracing our trials, we avoid and ignore them. Instead of accepting adversity, we try to eliminate it. Instead of feeling our pain, we try to numb ourselves through the idols we use for comfort. 


Jesus promises us in John 16:33b, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How can we be encouraged and build emotional resilience in the face of suffering? 


There’s something about submitting to our suffering that releases hope. Instead of fighting against suffering and trying to ignore the inevitable pain of it, we yield to it by acknowledging, naming, and accepting it. Embracing our pain strengthens our resilience in the same way that sitting in a sauna activates the healing system in our bodies. The stress our bodies experience in a sauna will make our immune system stronger, likewise, the stress of suffering builds emotional resilience. I’ve learned to choose to accept and embrace the discomfort of the sauna, by relaxing and slowing my breathing down instead of fighting against the uncomfortableness. Endurance through suffering comes as we yield, acknowledge, and accept it as well as grieving the loss of what we’re going through.


We also build resilience in suffering by sharing our stories with those we trust who will sit next to us in the muck. Vulnerably exposing our pain to those we are closest to, silences our fears of being alone and feeling the anxiety from abandonment. Rather than isolating ourselves from people and God, we need their presence. God longs to be with us in our pain. Allowing God to comfort us in place of numbing ourselves through our idols, releases His grace and enablement to walk through our suffering. Letting God strengthen and encourage us with His Word creates durability and adaptability.

 

In closing, may you take heart with these words from Isaiah 43:2. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

  

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” 

Edwin Hubble Chapin 


Relevant Reflection: 

How can you build emotional resilience in the face of suffering? 

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