We are hard pressed… 2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV
When a back injury paralysed Angela Madsen from the waist down, she vowed to do whatever it took to get back up. As a result she started training to be the first woman with a disability to row across the Atlantic. Journalist Denise Foley writes: "Madsen is what researchers call 'resilient' - able to rebound from whatever life brings. She's one of those people who make us wonder how we'd fare if our mettle were tested. Would we bounce back?" Paul writes, "We are hard pressed… but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV).
1) Take control of their lives: Drs. Steven & Sybil Wolin write, "It's easy to blame others for your problems and wait till they fix them. But then you never get to rise to the occasion… When you see yourself as a problem-solver life goes very differently. Identify your strengths. Recall those moments when you triumphed over adversity. Focus on what you can influence instead of what you can't."
2) Surround themselves with the right people: The Psalmist said, 'They… treated me badly all my life, but they have not defeated me' (Psalm 129:2 NCV). Ned Hallowell grew up with a bipolar father, an abusive stepfather, an alcoholic mother, and two learning disabilities - a history that's often a precursor to jail or a mental institution. Today he's a prominent psychiatrist, a happily-married father and a successful author. It happened largely because at boarding school he attached himself to teachers who cared about him and took him under their wing. So in tough times, lean on God, take control of your life, and surround yourself with the right people.
Two other traits resilient people share are:
1) They allow pain to spur growth: At the peak of her career when photographer Linda Joy Montgomery learned she was going blind, an inner voice said, "This isn't the end; it's the beginning." She began writing poetry, discovered her calling as a motivational speaker and created the True Vision Institute, teaching kids to tap into their inner resources. The Bible says: "Though good people may be bothered by trouble… they are never defeated… (Proverbs 24:16 NCV).
Finding purpose in your pain isn't a new idea. Survivors of life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters and the Holocaust, and parents of chronically ill children continually demonstrate how over-comers find the proverbial silver lining by reinventing themselves. Paul talks about being "battered by troubles, but… not demoralized… thrown down, but [not] broken" (2 Corinthians 4:8 TM). Meeting challenges helps develop confidence and a can-do attitude that says: '"I've been there, done that, and I'll survive." Michael Jordan once said, "I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career… lost over 300 games… 26 times I've been trusted to make the game-winning shot, and missed. I've tried and failed over and over again. That's why I succeed."
2) They insist on changing what they can: Paul says: "Whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord… (Ephesians 6:8 NKJV). Workers digging through the rubble to help rescue survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing, though understandably distressed, showed fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder later on. In concentration camps POW's who routinely gave away their last morsel, proved that you can choose your attitude in any given set of circumstances. How? By drawing strength from God and learning to control the one thing you can control - yourself.