Bent or Broken?

“We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Resilience. This is a word I have heard used often throughout my life. Some of my time in the service included resilience training. defines resilience as “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity” or “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.” It’s no wonder the military sought to invest in this type of training given the situations and stressors service members endure, particularly in times of conflict.

My life, much like everyone else’s, has provided me with much adversity. At times I have bounced back quickly; other times I fought the process. As I look at my life, I have found surrender is key. This is a bit counterintuitive for me, thus it was a long steep learning curve. It is a fight against the adage “Never Surrender.” I have gotten lots of needed practice, and I know more awaits me.

When I talk of surrender, I don’t mean surrender to man. Rather, surrender to God. Surrender of my circumstances, surrender of control, surrender of my life to God’s will. Being the control freak that I am, this is and has been a very hard lesson at times, but God knows what is best and what will serve his purposes. I only have my limited human perspective.

This surrender has taken different forms in different situations. Often, I make poor choices. These poor choices inevitably lead to negative consequences. Consequences that often were in the hands of other people to decide. This was a hard pill to swallow. It was during some of the times following the poorest decisions I’ve made that I learned to stop fighting and surrender. I made the choice, there would be consequences. BUT God knew the consequences I needed to redirect me to His path and the knowledge that He was in control. This didn’t make the road an easy one, but once I let go of my resistance the road became one I could endure. These were natural or logical consequences to something I did, so once I learned to surrender here, I could accept it.

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:19

Later on in life, I had some health concerns, due to no fault of my own. I had a long trying season working with doctors and trying to find out what was wrong and the best course of action. This happened on multiple fronts over the course of several years. This became the thorn in my side, but I was reminded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” “For when I am weak, then I am strong” Parts of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God would carry me through. Each time, surrender of my health grew easier and easier. God is my healer. He works through doctors, but he works miracles too. When even the doctors aren’t certain of courses of action God knows what to do and is in control.

At first, these situations were a bit harder to surrender. First, I thought there should be something I could do to “fix” my health. This, of course, is not true, for I am not God. There are things I can do to improve my health, but it is God who heals. Second, in this case, these were not consequences to something I had done. I didn’t burn my hand or do anything to cause these things. Unfortunately, the world is a fallen place and pain exists as a result. This is the consequence of mankind’s, and my, sinful nature. There doesn’t need to be another reason. Surrender of these circumstances gave me the strength to endure. God strengthened me when I felt I couldn’t go any further. My life was never as distressing as Job’s, “And he said ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” This was a lesson for me to be content in God.

These are instances in my life where I found I must surrender to endure, to be resilient, to bounce back. I have so many specific examples, examples of God’s faithfulness. I tend to be a stubborn person, and it takes a while to learn sometimes. Each instance stretches me a bit more, grows my faith and trust in God a bit more, and adjusts my perspective of myself – closer to what is true. I have found it is through surrender to God I can stand and fight, stand against popular opinion, and endure. I complete what seems impossible to me, because God is completing it through me. If I were to complete my God-sized tasks on my own, I would fail – and I often try. Then I am reminded to unclench my fists and open my hands to the loving Father who will walk through the storm with me. “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9. He brings me peace through the most trying circumstances.

Angela Fontanelli, GEM missionary