Categories: RECENT RESEARCH
Excerpted with permission from from Becoming Resilient (2017) by Donna Gibbs, LPCS, BCPCC, NCC
“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your caps for the singing of the National Anthem.” We’ve all heard this announcement at a ballgame or celebration. But do you ever wonder why you’re standing? Standing is considered appropriate in many situations. We give a standing ovation for someone who has just sung or performed marvelously or is being recognized for an achievement. We stand for a bride as she enters the room to greet her groom. We stand for a judge as they enter the courtroom. We stand for a family as they are escorted into a church or funeral home just prior to the funeral of a loved one. We stand during the pledge of allegiance. We stand for the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Standing is a symbolic expression of our respect. Our honor. Our undivided attention.
Recently, I discovered something about standing in relation to Jesus. My pastor, referencing the stoning of Stephen as recorded in Acts 7, spoke of Jesus standing in heaven: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (v. 55). I was puzzled; I had always thought of Jesus taking His place seated at the right hand of the Father. Though I have probably read this verse many times before, I never caught the significance of Jesus’s posture. He was doing something unusual, for at no other time in Scripture is Christ described as standing at God’s right hand; all other references are to Him sitting. Something brought Jesus to His feet. Perhaps it was that He wanted to give His full attention to Stephen’s suffering. Perhaps it was much like a standing ovation, an expression of love and respect for Stephen. Perhaps he was standing as an expression of honor. Perhaps Christ was welcoming Stephen into His presence. Perhaps He was standing in anger at the injustice Stephen was facing. Perhaps standing was a defensive stance—a standing up for Stephen. Perhaps it was judgment. While I can’t begin to explain the full rationale of Christ standing, I do know it was significant.
Oftentimes when we suffer, we feel that God is distant. Unengaged. Unaware. Silent. We may be confused by what seems to be His lack of attention. I am comforted by this Scripture passage, aren’t you? When Christ seems silent, it may just be that He is standing—full of love and respect. Your suffering, indeed, has His full attention. He cares. He is your defender. If you are struggling today, meditate on this image of Christ standing at the right hand of the Father, brought to His feet to focus on you.
The storms of life change us. But change doesn’t have to be catastrophic. When we maintain an eternal perspective, we position ourselves to overcome any obstacles in our path. I have seen, more times than I can count, oppressions lifted, addictions overcome, depression halted, eating disorders silenced, marriages restored, and hope found. That is welcomed change! My observations of God’s desires are consistent with the words of the prophet Isaiah:
To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isa. 61:3–4)
God can bring you out of your pit! He can free you from being stuck. And He can cause you to bounce back from your hurt. He proclaims freedom, release from darkness, comfort in sadness, beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair. He rebuilds and renews what is ruined. He restores what is devastated. What’s more? God can indeed replace your suffering with resilience! Resilience is more than just healing. Resilience comes when God takes a painful circumstance in our lives and not only heals us but also makes us even stronger than we were prior to the struggle. Get this: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Pet. 5:10). Restored. Strong. Firm. Steadfast. Sounds like resilience, doesn’t it?
Donna Gibbs,LPCS, BCPCC, NCC, graduated from North Carolina State University in 1993 with a BA in Psychology. She has post-graduate training in the specialization of School Psychology and an MS in Community Counseling which she earned in 1997 from Western Carolina University. She earned a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling and Psychology from Louisiana Baptist University in 2007. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor. She is on the professional referral networks for Focus on the Family. She is also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). Donna directs A Clear Word Counseling Center. She frequently enjoys speaking and training engagements. Her most recent book, Becoming Resilient, was published by Baker/Revell in September of 2017. She co-authored Water From the Rock, a resource for those who are struggling with the grief of infertility, which was published by Moody Press in 2002. Donna is also author of Kiss & Tell: Truths that will Transform your Marriage, published in 2009, and Sacred Secrets to Healthy Relationships: Mary, How Did You Do It?, published in 2010. Donna has been married to her husband, Mark, for 23 years, with four active and fun-loving boys.