The struggles we face offer us a choice: avoid them or use them as an opportunity to develop antifragile faith. Pain avoidance will keep us fragile, but when we press on with Christ as the goal, we can develop perseverance or what Dan calls, antifragile faith.
One might argue that this message titled “Antifragile Faith” should be called “Strong Faith” because strength is the antithesis of fragility. However, both fragile things and strong things break under duress, it’s just that the latter requires a greater degree of stress. Antifragility is different in that it actually increases in strength as one faces growing levels of stress. It is something that can grow as we endure and press through the challenges that arise in life.
In this sermon, Dan addresses how our faith can grow in antifragility. Crucial to answering this question is clarity about what we place at the center of our lives. In modern life, most place the pursuit of happiness at the center. When we do this, we set ourselves up for a fragile life because the only way to grow in antifragility is to press through stress and suffering. The pursuit of happiness is mutually exclusive to suffering, which means that we will avoid challenges as much as possible and therefore we will remain fragile.
We see from our focus scripture, 1 Peter 3:14, that there is blessing in the midst of suffering when we put Christ as the Lord of our hearts. In other words, we find these blessings when we are not fixated on the pursuit of happiness. This is illustrated by the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. The only way that we can grow in the manifestations of this fruit is when we have pressed through circumstances that cause resistance to them.
James 1:2-4 tells us that we can find joy in our trials because they test our faith and produce perseverance. This perseverance completes us—equating to antifragility. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in all things because there is no circumstance from which we cannot benefit. Every situation is an opportunity to be transformed. We give thanks as a counterattack against the enemy who is always trying to stoke the fires of despair, envy, insecurity and disappointment.
When we pursue happiness, the natural response to our struggles and sufferings is to avoid. This only makes matters worse. As an alternative to avoidance, Dan offers the experience of walking through a labyrinth, which is a metaphor for how we face and press through our struggles. As we walk it, we feel lost and uncertain. The only way to progress is to take the next step because we do not have the ability to see the entire journey. As Augustine once said, “It is solved by walking.”
We are invited to take the next step. Are we willing? More specifically, are we willing to put Christ at the center of our pursuit? We might fail at this. We might even fail many times along the way. But the only way to move ahead is to push aside avoidance and press on toward the prize of the knowledge of Jesus.
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