Lately, I’ve been learning about foster care and the brain development of children who grow up in a sea of instability and trauma. One of the most common themes is the discussion of resiliency – questions like, what allows a child to make it through rocky circumstances and come out the other side whole and hope-filled? Leaders in this field are asking, how can we help kids to become more resilient as they face incredibly harsh circumstances?
What I hear time and time again is that the likelihood for heightened resiliency hinges on the child having at least one stable adult to trust and rely on.
When taking this observation and juxtaposing it with the topic of identity, I’m struck by the parallels, how our ability to see God at work in hard spaces is intertwined with our trust. This can be the defining difference between thriving and floundering through life.
I think the best example of this is Jesus’ own life — Jesus lived rooted in the Father.
He often took time away to pray, and always directed people’s attention towards his Father.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.” (John 14:10)
While life may lack what we consider “stability”, Jesus remained deeply connected to his Father. Jesus lived every moment with purpose; fully anchored in his Father’s will and his identity as the Son of God. There is no question he knew who he was and why he was here.
For us, it’s easy to forget. We need reminders of who we are and where we find life. Our identity is not based in what happens to us or around us; instead who we are is based in who Jesus is.
Our life flows from Jesus.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)
Sometimes it’s easy to feel inadequate and weak. Like we can never be enough. On our own, we fail, but that’s ok. When we can find our identity in Jesus we will be resilient flourishing trees, because we rest in the trusted gaze of our Father in heaven. How beautiful, how hopeful it is that we can be in the driest of circumstances and still bear fruit. Good fruit, not because we are trying extra hard, but because we are so deeply rooted in Jesus that his life continues to nourish our souls in the desert.
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)