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Spiritual resilience
Sunday 16th January

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

John 16:33 


Thought: Spiritual resilience is found in the ability to sustain our sense of self and purpose through our beliefs, principles, values and morals. ... Additionally, spiritual resilience is shaped in how we bounce back or rebound from difficulties and move forward with a deeper knowledge of both God and ourselves.




In our scripture today Jesus is reassuring his disciples that in Him is where we find peace then he warns them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.  Resilience can be seen as a place of inner peace, where the core of our beliefs our values is at rest in Christ. This deep conviction was not yet part of these followers lives as they did indeed sleep, when it was time to pray, they ran when faced with persecution. Yet a complete transformation was about to occur.


Jesus was saying to them, that the Holy Spirit will come and help you. So Jesus says In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  


Jesus had confronted his disciples warning them that they will require some Spiritual resilience and said, “how you move forward from today will define how you live out your faith.”  this was a defining moment in these disciples lives, at this time they missed their opportunity, they failed the test when Jesus needed them, they were willing yet they were weak. Peter was one of those who had several defining moments, such revelation, “you are the Christ” to such determination “ill never leave you” such passion in defending Jesus with the sword. Yet he denied Christ “ill be cursed if I know that man” that was not the end of the story, 


Some say that it is by “our mistakes that we learn”, however, that sadly is not always true especially if circumstances and our bad habits seem to conspire against us. It can be painful but through learned life experience and the teaching of Jesus and the empowerment of the spirit and finally, and through the resilience we develop and the determination not to give up, and when we have done all to stand, we stand.  As Peter stood up with the empowerment of the Spirit saying “this Jesus whom you crucified was raised by God... This promise is for all who believe...Repent and receive the power from the Holy Spirit”  


My main points this morning are threefold the first is following the advice from Jesus to stay awake, the second is from Paul and the third is from whoever wrote Hebrews. 


First is that we need to stay awake and pray, second is to grow up and for us to begin new ways of thinking, speaking and then acting and finally hold on with endurance so we receive the final promise.




Point 1 Stay awake and pray.


Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; 

the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41


Jesus comes to his disciples after praying alone, knowing what was coming Jesus is in a time of anguish. Persecution was not going to be limited to his self so he warns his disciples to stay awake and pray, willingness of spirit is not the problem here. They are weak in their flesh, their humanity they are in need to stay awake and pray. Spiritual resilience is developed when we pray even when we don’t feel like it. The temptation when things are hard is to just switch off, bury ourselves in the latest Netflix drama or do other things that dull our senses. When we often know the keys to success yet we feel lethargic and unwilling. 


The psalmist (108), says to his soul be steadfast and awake and sing.  Sometimes we need to act in opposition to our body and tell our soul to wake, refuse to slip into dullness or just sleep, especially when we know it’s time to pray. It seemed at that moment, for these disciples, the willingness they had was insufficient to overcome their weakness. This is where the work of the Holy Spirit steps in, we receive what we have from God by faith, and it's God recognising our faith, even though it may be small, it's enough to get God’s attention.  God multiplies what we give into his hands. If we offer it in faith.


Point 2 Growing in resilience.


We can and must grow in resilience, and we all have the capacity. Even the smallest seed Jesus spoke about grows into the tallest of trees.  We must grow up not only for our personal development but our capacity to take on life's challenges such as persecution, temptation and natural weakness. If we teach our children resilience then they can face the challenges of life, by encouraging them to go beyond the edge of what they know and expand their horizons. If we stretch their minds in activities such as learning new languages or skills it develops new pathways in their brains. 


We too can grow up in our knowledge of God. Developing these new pathways in our mindset we can grow in resilience, the more we grow and practise we teach ourselves and develop new ways of thinking, new language and what follows is our actions. If we have areas that we are undeveloped or even childish, perhaps it’s time to try something new. Paul writes of this…


When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.1 Corinthians 13:11


As we grow in our faith we develop new ways of Thinking » Speaking » Acting.


We see this in the life of those disciples, especially Peter who underwent a spiritual transformation, from weakness to strength from hiding and denying Christ, to boldly proclaiming the good news of Christ, taking the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. Giving his life for Christ.


God wants us to develop new ways of thinking.  Becoming a Christ-follower does not mean we leave behind all reasoning for blind faith, no, we know our faith has a solid foundation and we are encouraged to be ready and able to give a reasonable argument for what we believe. Our faith begins childlike and indeed remains so, in many ways, especially in simple trust, even if things don’t work out like we planned we remain in steadfast trust that God holds us. 


Point 3. Keep calm and carry on. (Receive the promise)


The final point is that we continue to look to Christ as the one who can bring to completion his promise. He has begun a good work in is and will complete it and therefore we do not lose hope, and we do not faint in the day of adversity, because even in our weakness His strength is revealed,  The rewards of our faithfulness to Christ result in our resurrection and reigning with Christ as royal priests. 


Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 


Doing the will of God requires resilience, the attitude that we will follow through, despite what this world throws at us. The will of God is that his glory will cover the whole earth like the water covers the seas and one day we trust that all creation will be redeemed and God’s children will inherit all his promises.  




We may have missed opportunities in our spiritual walk as we do in the natural course of life. Slept when we should have been alert, acted childish in areas when we should have grown up and we may have even missed the will of God for us.  This may have been due to our shortcomings, our fears within, or temptation and persecution from outside influences.


Jesus is saying to us, that the Holy Spirit will come and help us. just as Jesus said In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take courage! I’ve conquered the world.”  


There is a warning for us, just as Jesus had to his disciples warning them that they will require some Spiritual resilience and said, “how you move forward from today will define how you live out your faith.”.


Stay awake, grow up by expanding our knowledge and hold steady.


Spiritual resilience is not that we don't face trials and hardships but that we bounce back or rebound from these difficulties and move forward with a deeper knowledge of both God and ourselves.



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