The following is part two in a series by guest writer, Charlie Coil of Bentonville, Ark. The entire post entitled “Resilience.” This is a well written and well thought-out post. (You can read part 1 here)
Part II: Pressed on Every Side by Troubles
Everybody sing along: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, Nobody knows but Jesus.” Maybe you want to correct me on those last two words. But, I quoted the original! Later renditions change the line to “Nobody knows my sorrow”. Ever wonder why? Let’s save a response for later. Here’s the rest of the song:
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus!
Oh, yes, Lord
Troubles are like lawyers; they’re everywhere. If few of us had troubles there’d be no lawyers. How’s this for the name of an actual attorney group’s website? Gottrouble.com. My forebears were the notorious Ulster Scots of Northern Ireland. That notorious period of horribly violent ethno-political unrest in Northern Ireland is still known in Ireland as “The Troubles” (Irish: Na Trioblóidí). Today our picture of the continent of Africa is almost synonymous with “troubles” of every kind—war, poverty, disease. And to say “Middle East” is to say “madness”. But come home to quiet, peaceful, prosperous “middle America” and say “cancer”. There is no trouble-free spot on the planet, never has been, never will be.
Is there anyone on the planet then who does not recognize, in the face of troubles on every side, the absolute necessity of human resilience? Why are we even talking about this topic? Experience is the simplest answer. No living thing survives without going through some difficult experiences that require some measure of resilience in order to survive. We talk about it because all humanity seems to be pressed on every side by troubles, that’s why! If we are not resilient, we are dead. A human body without an immune system cannot survive. We cannot live our lives in separate, germ-proof bubbles. To live physically is to constantly rebound from a continual barrage of viral and bacterial assaults. But, there is far more, isn’t there, when we say the word “troubles”. The human psyche is not immune from the daily battering of the heart.
In the West the philosophical and religious responses to trouble or adversity vary widely along a continuum from trouble as punishment to trouble as completely absurd. Even going so far as to deny the very existence of trouble as something real (it’s just a figment of human imagination) is one proposed answer to the issue. I tend to place this approach into the irresponsible or even irrational column even though a great deal of humanity takes this view in professing some form of Buddhist, Taoist or Hindu faith. And millions spend their lives at least giving lip service to denying or trying to deny this simple, common sense observation that—to be human is to be pressed by troubles.
We ignore troubles to our own peril. We redefine them supposedly out of existence, again to our own peril. We drown them with chemicals to our own peril. We defy them as absurd with existential hubris to our own peril. In this world you will have trouble, Jesus said. No denial or defiance here. His answer was simple: Take heart for I have overcome the world.
The well-known, liberal turned conservative, social scientist and columnist, Max Lerner made this famous comment: “The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core strength within you that survives all hurt.” The assumption of hurt or trouble in this life is a part of maturity or “growing up.” But, the problem with this remark is that it never defines “core strength” which is the point after all, isn’t it. This “core strength within you that survives all hurt” is your resilience. But, this is an extremely perplexing issue to get our minds around.
Next time we’ll “ponder perplexity.” That is, up to this point while most can clearly admit our defenselessness (that we can’t deny the troubles we’ve seen), we haven’t really acknowledged just how puzzling and perplexing this issue really is. Perhaps it’s so perplexing in part because of our own human nature and in part because we’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places? Stay tuned.