Grit by Grace

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In the movie, Fantastic Four, there is a super-hero character, Reed also known as Mister Fantastic. His super-hero power is being able to stretch, bend, and curl into all shapes he desires as each situation calls for.
Mr. Fantastic characterised for me resilience: the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. To be resilient is to recover quickly from difficulties. It is the ability to adapt to hard circumstances in life.

When I think of resilient people, Filipinos come foremost to mind. Their happy, positive nature to adapt under dire situations in places of calamities, at times of want, demonstrates for us what resilience is. According to the United Nations’ annual World Happiness Report in 2019, Philippines is the 69th happiest country in the world. The country’s happy index rose to 61st in 2020 when Covid struck. Among its regional neighbours, she is next to Singapore and Thailand at 32nd and 54th spots, respectively. Behind her are Malaysia (81st) and Indonesia (82nd).

The report used “six key variables” to rank the country by happiness, namely GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. Although the 1st and the last variable do not seem to be the main contributing factors for our high ranking, I surmise that we, Filipinos have a strong social support system – in the bayanihan spirit (communal unity, helping others without expecting rewards, to achieve a certain goal), our pakikiramay (empathy to sympathize) and willingness to help in spite of limited resources. It often touches me to see that the poor are generous to share what they have – so much more than the rich. Their generosity, hospitality and sense of camaraderie enable them to be resilient people.

Christians, as children of God and followers of Jesus are called to be resilient as well. In the Bible, there are many teachings and encouragements for us to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4), to give thanks in everything (1 Thes. 5:18), to rejoice in hope, to be patient in tribulation (Rom. 12:12).

I firmly believe that Christians do not ‘wowed’ the world with their bed of roses. They cannot ‘market’ their faith with their prosperous life of material resources. Christians are best witnesses of the grace and mercy of God because they choose joy in spite of their circumstances. They shine the brightest when they choose to sing God’s praise in their darkest moment.

Even Christians are not exempted from hard challenges of life. They too get into trouble and financial needs. They also get sick and die. They are not immune to broken relationships. But through it all, they are testament of God’s faithfulness, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling because they overcome. They get up from the ashes. They rise from the pit of despair. They forge rivers of grief and sadness. They have a shepherd who walks with them through the valley of the shadow of death.

A Christian’s resilience is a God-given ability to rise and shine, come back to form from the difficulties in life. God created man in his own image – the image of love and kindness, all things good. When God puts me in hot waters, He will surely enable me to come out shining in his own image. When he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

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