What do you do when the devil makes multiple attempts to overthrow you?

How do you respond when he tries to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10) the very things you hold dear?

Such an incident happened recently, which caused me to helplessly send an SOS to the Holy Spirit. I was desperate for His intervention and assurance. For as I was falling asleep late one evening, I heard an unabashed, unfamiliar voice speak.

“You will have cancer. You will never have children.”

Despite being certain it was not the voice of God, chills pulsated through my physical heart.

Almost immediately, the impact of these statements catapulted me into an hour of distraught, fear, and sleeplessness. Tears and prayer followed swiftly.

I’ve never been one to worry about my health, but that day earlier, I was frustrated by the sudden occurrence of a rather severe and dreadful viral infection.

The topic of children was the nail in the coffin — that really hurt. Anyone who knows me would be able to testify that I’ve desired to be a mother since I was a child. As it has been a deep longing for most of my life, a life without children seemed to be an incomplete one.

I started to imagine never having the privilege of carrying a child for nine months, or investing into the life of my own child … and I lost it.

as I was falling asleep late one evening, I heard an unabashed, unfamiliar voice speak.

My fear and tears consumed me all evening and left me questioning: Are these statements true? Why did this voice attack me? Why am I so fearful, as if these statements might possibly be true? I had to resist the voice that had driven me into a corner causing me to believe that these were prophecies!

Since that very moment, November became the most trying month of 2018 — not because I went through loss or devastation, but because my personal life consistently came under attack as I pursued full-time pastoral work in my home church. On more than one occasion, I found myself struggling to fight off anxieties that appeared swiftly and unannounced.

As I made attempts to recover from this incident, I’ve come to learn firsthand the concept of resilience (in character and spirit) as opposed to simply getting through life.

It would have been easier for me to spiral into a pit of unbelief in God, and allow the lies to influence or determine my attitude and posture at and towards work.

However, with the lives under my pastoral care in mind, I was moved to exercise resilience in order to steward their lives well. A leader cannot allow his or her personal circumstance to negatively define the way he or she leads.

Resilience is a vital element of life. It is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change — to bounce back and to keep going. Resilience is the ability to withstand shaking or testing without losing faith and hope in God.

Resilience, in the eyes of God, begins on your knees.

In coming before the Lord in the midst of my pain, He taught me this: Resilience, in the eyes of God, begins on your knees.

In a dog-eat-dog world, resilience seems to advocate the idea of individuality and self-dependence. For example, in Singapore, we are encouraged to 活到老, 学到老 (always keep learning, even in old age) so that we avoid becoming obsolete in society. Resilience is often made out to be a constant fight to keep your head above water.

However, from God’s perspective, resilience begins from a position and posture of surrender. It’s not about doing more or fighting back, but learning to come to a place of submission to Him and His sovereign reign over our lives.

More than a week after the incident, I brought the struggle before the Lord again. He gently whispered: “Surrender is sometimes painful – and that’s okay.”

My immediate reaction was, “That’s okay?! How is that okay? With all the heartache and tears … I don’t understand how that’s okay.”

Yet, in the next moment, the song playing shuffled to Lead Me to the Cross, and I began to see that Jesus understood my struggles when I heard the lyrics:

“You were as I, tempted and tried – human.”

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)

In re-understanding the humanity of Jesus, I am reminded that He too had to surrender to God the Father. Jesus had to first surrender before taking on the ultimate pain and suffering for us. It was that knowledge which led me out of the dark pit of self-pity.

I saw that as a response to my struggle, God was issuing an invitation to surrender my physical health and fertility to Him, knowing and trusting that while my human eye cannot see what goes on within my body, He is sovereign and has an eye for detail. He never misses a thing.

God was issuing an invitation to surrender my physical health and fertility to Him.

I recall telling the Lord in desperation: “I want November to end, now.”

Now as the month finally draws to a close, I’ve learnt that surrender is not merely a single decision, but a continuous daily decision. Surrender requires dying to your own wishes and hopes about how a given situation could or should turn out.

While surrender sounds daunting and difficult, it is possible at the foot of the cross – where our hearts may truly find rest and assurance knowing our lives are not our own. Through Christ in me, I know I can live resiliently for His glory.

The Lord is inviting you to allow Him to build resilience in you. It starts with being on your knees before Him.

To leaders, and those serving in multiple and varying capacities in both the marketplace and local churches, the Lord had you on His heart when He led me to write this article.

Many of us attempt good balancing acts as we manage our academics, workloads, and ministries, but not all of us are succeeding. Some of us might be struggling within and painfully trudging on, rather than soldiering on in the Lord.

Regardless of what you are going through, remember that Paul exhorted us that when Jesus comes back again, we will be changed and raised with Him because God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). No matter the lie or fear that might be crippling you today, you can stand in resilience knowing God has won the victory!

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

What assurance to know that all that we do for the Lord will never be in vain, when we learn what it means to give Him the glory! He alone will keep us unshaken.

May we never boast in an earthly resilience, but daily learn to rely on God through submission and surrender. Only then, in the face of evil, can we look at fear, anxiety, weariness and sickness and confidently say, “I am not afraid, and I will not be shaken.”

This article was first published on Selah.sg and is republished with permission.