The ability to ‘SNAP-Back’

When I was a kid, …one of the great toys of the day was “Stretch” Armstrong. What was cool was seeing how far you could stretch him. I remember having Stretch Armstrong competitions. Things got crazy. We did a tug of war with him. We even tied two bikes to stretch via ropes, one to his arms one to his legs. But no matter how hard we pulled, Stretch Armstrong always “snapped” back to his regular shape and size.

One of the attributes that sets apart the successful from those who are not is this idea of resiliency. Whether it’s running a race, living with grace, or keeping your place in business is this idea of resiliency. Resiliency is defined as – the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness, the ability to spring back into shape, or as I’ve titled this, the ability to “snap-back.” Like a rubber band snaps back into shape after you twist it or snap it.

One thing all of us are anxious to find out is our country’s, our economy’s, our business ability to snap back into shape. Many of us have been stretched to the limit with this Coronavirus. It’s stretched our coping skills, our relationships, our finances, our patience, our peace, and our trust. This has been one of the most significant times of testing America has seen to date. And the truth the stretching still isn’t over, and the damage is still being dealt and felt. In times of stretching, the key is to keep trusting. Trust is a key ingredient to our ability to cope and our ability to recover. Trust is a key component to faith and times of stretching expose to what extent we are trusting in God. As odd as it sounds, faith is not only exposed in times of stretching, it is also grown in times of stretching. 

Here are some people who endured great stretching and afterward great blessing. The stretching made them more resilient and more reliant on God. Abe’s faith grew stronger waiting for those many years Sarah, and he waited for a son. 

Elijah’s faith grew in the seven years of drought. David’s faith grew in the many years of hiding from a jealous bloodthirsty King Saul. It was in their stretch test that God transformed them into the best versions of themselves. When we go through stretching, it’s good to look to those who went through it too and thrived. 

Where are you being stretched these days? How are you coping? How are you, in new or more profound ways, putting your hope in God? Or are you moping? One of the things that I’ve learned from running is that when the course gets rough, or the slope is tough, or my energy runs low, it’s a good time for me to slow and recover. When hardships are the most intense, it’s best to not focus on how far you have to go, but just the path you have to take. Pacing is vital in racing. If you start too fast, I’ve learned the hard way; you can hit the wall and come in last.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

 One of the things I avoided doing that is one of the pillars of long-term health and high performance is stretching. It looks weird. It takes time. It is painful and uncomfortable. But when you don’t stretch, you increase the strain on your muscles. You see muscles thicken and tighten and then rip or underperform. Longer lean muscle is more flexible and durable. It increases your range of motion and keeps you out of the doctor’s office. The Bible also says that stretching, or should I say testing and struggles, help us reach our potential and become the people God has created us to be.

“We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.”

Romans 5:3-4 (MSG)

Here’s some positive Perspective. Did you realize, outside of Sequoias, that trees which are planted alone grow larger and stronger than trees that are planted together. One reason for this is the wind’s push and pull bends the tree and, as a result, toughens and strengthens the trunk. The stronger the trunk, the healthier the tree. The truth is struggles are hard, but they make us stronger, more resilient, and tougher. They give us grit, so we don’t call it quits.  

Study after study has shown that probably the most important characteristic you could teach a child (and that you need in your own life) is resilience. It’s the ability to bounce back. It’s the ability to keep going. The people who make it in life have resilience. Researchers have done more than 600 studies on the topic of resilience, and there’s a general consensus: The ability to bounce back from hardship isn’t a trait you’re born with, but a set of skills that anyone can learn and build on at any point in their life. Anyone! Here’s a couple of scriptures that will increase your spiritual grit, so you don’t quit.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV)

“Therefore, my beloved brothers [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)

Let’s not forget in our struggles that we have a Path Partner in God. We are not alone, and we do not face things merely in our own strength. God is with us, gifting us with what we need; we just have to trust his lead, and pray to him for his strength to endure, and his wisdom to maneuver. I am pretty resilient alone, but I’m a lot more resilient with others. When I know God’s in my corner I can stay in the fight longer. I may have a good cry, but with God I will always try … until the day that I die. 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (NIV)

 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (ESV) 

“I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20 sel (MSG)

When I’m running a race, there are times when I’m bored; it is then I focus on the prize at the finish line, and I’m restored! This world is filled with struggle. It has pain; it has failure. It has hurt, rejection, and more. Heaven has none of these. It is a perfect place. It is a land overflowing with Grace. Heaven possesses no negatives, only perpetual positives. When life gets weighty, I try to focus on heaven and it’s promise of perpetual light. The prize at the end, an eternity with God and with others who adorn new bodies, and restored souls is really my life’s goal.

 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NLT)

“[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.” Revelation 21:4-5 sel (MSG)

“God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” Lam 3:25-28 (MSG)