After my son died, I relied more on my faith for strength than on other people. Relying on my faith helped me to feel less alone. My faith gave me the strength to pursue new opportunities. I put God first in my life and found strength in my spiritual beliefs and practices. This helped me build resilience and move forward. I set goals for myself and made plans to accomplish them.
In “Faith and Resilience,” Bosworth says, “Social scientists refer to people as resilient if they exhibit a capacity to continue their lives more or less as normal in spite of trauma, loss, or other adversity that might be expected to result in significant dysfunction.” Resilience is defined as, “the human capacity to deal with, overcome, learn from, or be transformed by the inevitable adversities of life.” Many people experience resilience in the wake of loss.
In 2 Samuel, we can learn a great deal about resilience from David. David builds resilience in ways resembling a hero or a superhuman, much like a soldier who returns home from combat. Before David lost his child to an illness, he pleaded with God for his child’s life. “David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying sackcloth on the ground.” (2 Samuel 12:16) After David’s son died, he got up, cleaned himself, went to the Tabernacle to worship the Lord, and ate food. “Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request, they served him food, and he ate.” (2 Samuel 12:20) Perhaps David was able to go forward and build resilience because he took comfort in his son’s death. In David’s mind, it was as if God had closed a chapter in his life. For the death of David’s child by Bathsheba was God’s final answer to his request that his child might live.
Research has shown that individuals who build resilience can live lives of great success. Bosworth shares that there are three concepts of resilience:
- Resilience can be demonstrated by being around others in their environments and social contexts.
- Resilient outcomes must show that this result is entirely unexpected.
- Resiliency contains ordinary judgments of what make up positive or desirable outcomes.
Different individuals can have different measures of success. Research on trauma and bereavement show that “large numbers of people manage to endure the temporary upheaval of loss or potentially traumatic events remarkably well, with no apparent disruption in their ability to function at work or in close relationships, and seem to move on to new challenges with an apparent ease.”
David built genuine resilience. Genuine resilience is the ability to remain functional at work and in relationships while simultaneously experiencing yearning, emotions, and intrusive thoughts about the loss. David lived a normal life despite losing his child. He became a king and had great success. Finding resiliency is a way to move out of dark times and to experience joy again. Perhaps David built genuine resilience because of his relationship with God.
Some lessons that I take away from this story are that I can be resilient in the wake of loss. While I cannot change my child’s outcome in this life, I can change my future as his mother by building resilience and going forward with my life in a way that can bring love and honor to his memory. Faith in God helps to mend broken hearts, helping to form joy and build resilience in times of loss.
Tags: Resilience, Scripture Exploration, Meaning, Faith, Healing, King David, Child Loss
 David Bosworth, “Faith and Resilience: King David’s Reaction to the Death of Bathsheba’s Firstborn” (The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 2011) 692.
 Bosworth, “Faith and Resilience,” 697.
 Bosworth, “Faith and Resilience,” 698.
 Bosworth, “Faith and Resilience,” 700.
 Bosworth, “Faith and Resilience,” 703.
Bosworth, David A. “Faith and Resilience: King David’s Reaction to the Death of Bathsheba’s Firstborn.” In The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73, (2011): 691-707.