For several months now, I have been thinking about this topic of resilience in cross-cultural workers. I admit that I have been somewhat troubled by what the Scriptures tell me about God’s method of using suffering to develop resilience. As I have said in previous posts on this topic, the Scriptures do not use the word “resilience”. But the word “perseverance”1 in the Greek, “hupomone” is found repeatedly in Holy Writ. It seems to capture the idea of resilience.
So what do I find troubling in Scripture? In my thinking, the logical way to strengthen a missionary’s resilience is to:
- provide them with good training to prepare them for hard times
- ensure that they have excellent member care when they go through hard times.
From a human perspective, I struggle to see how suffering in any way contributes to the development of resilience. Isn’t our goal here to minimize the suffering?
Resilience comes from suffering
But what do the Scriptures say about how God produces perseverance in the believer? Look at what Paul says in Romans chapter 5.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.Romans 5:3–4