It was back in 1997 the British rock group Chumbawamba came out with the hit song “Tubthumping”. It became an international hit. Its lyrics were questionable and it’s not my style of music—but it was popular. But it’s the words I like.
What was proclaimed loud and clear was only one simple phrase that everyone seemed to know; the refrain that keeps people all over the world coming back for more: “I get knocked down, but I get up again; you’re never going to keep me down!” There’s something about these words that resonate with most people: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down”.
Reminds me of Mike Tyson who famously remarked, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” If you live long enough, you’ll be punched in the mouth more than once. Sometimes you’ll see the blow coming. More often it seems to come out of nowhere. And what do you do? How do you react?
How is it that some people can get up and continue and others give up? One word: resilience. It’s a word we don’t use very much. But it is fascinating just the same.
Studies of resiliency in individuals are also revealing. Recent research has focused on children born into high-risk situations, including poverty, abuse, and crime. The findings showed that 50% and often as high as 70% of these youth developed an ability to cope with stress and to lead successful lives. Why?
They quickly learned valuable lessons early on in life, and developed techniques to help them adapt where others, who did not have to struggle, failed to be resilient. But deep down most of us have learned, somehow, to be resilient, at least to some extent. This makes sense because life entails so many stresses and changes, from loss and aging, to job changes, to births and even happy occasions.
Even positive events place stress on us. Just think about when you or one of your children got married. Or think about when that first newborn baby came home from the hospital. You had to learn parenting skills very quickly. Or think about when you started high school or your first day at work. If this ability to manage stress were not part of our makeup, none of us would be able to get through the day. Those who are already fairly resilient can learn to be more resilient.
When I think about becoming more resilient, I think about having the ability to move with life’s changes. I think of that well-known saying about trees bending with the wind. It’s a very familiar proverb from the Mandarin Chinese. It teaches that the tree, that does not bend with the wind, will be broken by the wind. Think about it: flexibility and patience.
And then there’s an even more valuable lesson. The Apostle Paul from the New Testament times discovered it when he wrote to his church congregation:
We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 – The Voice).
This was not just inner strength or self confidence—it is resilience in the Christian sense, knowing that Jesus Christ is alive in our hearts and gives us the courage and strength to face whatever. Paul knew that even if he were to be killed for his faith, he would rejoice in Heaven. Life would go on in eternity. That was his hope.
Albert Einstein said it this way, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Those who are resilient and trust in God’s overall providence, find the opportunities. Because none of our lives are entirely without pain or stress, our success and happiness depends not on avoiding problems so much as learning to move with them.
The storms of life will come—loss, betrayal, illness, tragedy, assaults on our faith, or just plain difficulty. Jesus’ teaching is more than simply gaining Heaven when we die; it’s about living a resilient life now by his power. His words and presence help us build a base for our lives that will withstand even the fiercest of winds.