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God is Resilience

Today I’m thankful for some perspective from my Muslim neighbors. In Islam it is believed there are 99 names for God. Some of those names for God are Just, All-Compassionate, Sustainer, Greatest, Forgiving, and Resurrector. I would add Resilience. I see the Holy One as Resilience.

In a book by Resmaa Menakem called, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, the author, an expert on conflict and violence, writes about healing from internalized racism festering not only in our mind, but in our body: “This is how resilience works. It doesn’t always create full healing, but it may build protection and prevent (or blunt) future wounding. It can create in the body a little more room for growth and development. This, in turn, can create an opportunity for passing on caring, context, and growth to other bodies—especially the bodies of the next generation.”

As with the nail-scarred hands of Christ, the wounds we endure, be they from racism, various forms of abuse, or personal loss, may not ever fully heal. But one name we have for Christ is Emmanuel, which means God-With-Us. God is with us through our pain. God is with us in our healing. And God is Resilience: our Provider of prevention against future psychological and sociological wounding, and of more room in our head and heart for growth and development. As the old spiritual sings, “Please, be patient with me. God is not through with me yet.” Yes, God is Resilience.

I must confess that 16 months since the start of the covid pandemic, I have days where I do not feel resilient. Especially with the new Delta variant of the virus wreaking a fresh wave of havoc on our communities, there are moments when I am drained. These days it feels like the wounds inflicted by the pandemic are undergoing a one-step-forward-two-steps-back dynamic of healing. That feeling can be so heavy on the head and heart that it is tempting to retreat into individualized forms of comfort that revert to former ways of looking at the world, of relating to our neighbor, and of seeing and treating the earth we share, all of which somehow made sense before this mess. But I cling hard to the one-step-forward moments when I’m reminded that God is always doing a new thing, and we’re called to be a part of it.

The hope I carry in these ambiguous, anxious days is that the more we commit to looking at the world with renewed vision that doubles down on compassion, forgiveness, and justice; the more we relate to our neighbor with empathy, loving kindness, and intentional acknowledgments and confessions of racism and white supremacy in all their past and present forms; and the more we see and treat the earth we share as a neighbor—loving that precious neighbor as we love ourselves—the quicker our healing will come. I take courage and comfort in the faithful thought that God is with us in this exhausting mess, leading us to a transformed way of living that gives witness to how resilient all of us, made in God’s image, truly are; for God is Resilience.


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