Attending church on Sunday I experienced first-hand how much our faith helps us to be resilient. Research shows the importance of having a strong, supportive network and being part of a local church family provides that.
Before the service begins we greet one another. It is always good to feel welcomed, to be acknowledged with a warm smile and even a hug. Here is a place where I belong.
Then we begin to sing our praises to God. I love singing, and again research and experience show how helpful music and singing can be in lifting one’s mood. The words too are so inspiring. Today we sing about God’s faithfulness, and remind ourselves that God is our rock in times of trouble, that he lifts us up when we feel down. Without realising it we are re-framing our thoughts, turning them from negative ones to positive, faith-filled thoughts.
A few people lead us in prayer. Resilient people have a strong sense of the transcendent apparently, and that is what prayer gives us, the awareness that God is there, is interested in us, and is in control.
Scripture is read (Isaiah 61:1-3) and the promises of God give us hope that he can exchange our spirit of despair for a garment of praise. Emotions that have disturbed us begin to calm down and peace is restored. An optimistic outlook is key to resilience.
A couple share a testimony of how God has provided for them in the course of a life time of discipleship. They are so grateful to God and we all reflect on his goodness towards us as well. Being thankful helps us to maintain perspective, another essential aspect of resilience.
We share communion together, giving our attention to the cross and the love of God. We sing again, ‘All that we need is found in you’, words which I love and which remind me of the resources I have in Christ to cope with life’s challenges.
The meeting closes and we get the room ready for Messy Church later in the afternoon. Many of us will be taking part in a variety of ways and serving the young families in our local community. Those who look outwards and care for others are apparently more resilient, so service like this is good for us. Hard work, but beneficial to our own well-being. It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose.
And so the day draws to a close. We are tired, but we feel built up as well. Our faith has been strengthened, we have opened ourselves to God, and we have connected deeply with other people. Unconsciously, and without realising it, we have increased our resilience simply by doing what Christian people should do.