As we approach the one year mark of living in a pandemic, what words would you use to describe this past year? Chaotic? Lonely? Heartbreaking? Those are some that rise to the top of the list for me. As I examine this past year, I’m reminded that in this life we are promised suffering for many reasons: for being a follower of Jesus or because we simply live in a world that is not how it was supposed to be!
However, we also know that suffering and adversity, that which was intended for evil, God can use for good (Genesis 50:20). In other words, in God’s hands, intended evil can become good. Our suffering can produce good fruit. Fruit such as perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:3).
Now might be the time to not only examine what the Lord is doing in you, but also to practice the spiritual discipline of examen--to reflect and mine for the good the Lord can produce in you through the suffering you have experienced this year: the fruit of spiritual resilience.
One definition puts it this way: "Spiritual resilience is not simply about recovering from adversity. It is about bouncing back in a way that deeper knowledge of both God and self may result.”
I love this definition because it fits with what we see in Scripture. Romans 5 tells us that suffering/adversity produces perseverance (resilience), character (which is about understanding ourselves) and hope (which is about knowing who God is!).
A few simple questions we can ask ourselves to examine this year are:
- What words would I use to describe this past year?
- Where have I see God?
- What did I learn about God, myself and others this past year?
An additional definition for spiritual resilience adds, “the ability to maintain identity and purpose through hardship.” This is my prayer for us a followers of Jesus: that through the hardship of doing ministry in a pandemic, in addition to ALL that is already on your plate as a nursing student, practicing nurse, educator, or retired nurse, that you will--in addition to knowing God more yourself--maintain the purpose and vision of NCF. Now more than ever, nurses need a thriving community around them to support them with the love of Christ!
Here are additional resources on the practice of examen, spiritual resilience, and spiritual disciplines:
Jen Wojtysiak, BS, ThM, is NCF’s Student Ministries Director who is passionate about spiritual formation. She inspires and invests in nursing students, student leaders, and faculty advisors from her home in Wisconsin.