It is God himself who will bring you to your glorious completion. Transforming you by His Spirit through good and pain, bracing you against the difficulties of life and hardening you along the way, this is just one more way He has shed his limitless love upon you. You may look weak, you may even feel it deep within, but like a clay pot filled with concrete, you are anything but fragile.
Writer, businessman, and educator Nassim Nicholas Taleb gets the credit for coining the term ‘antifragile’ in his 2014 book of the same name. As Taleb describes it, ‘antifragile’ is that property of systems in which the capacity to thrive actually increases whenever external difficulties, pressures, or even pains are applied.
Antifragile is different from resiliency or endurance, in that those characteristics only measure the amount of pressure something can repeatedly take. If that something were antifragile, however, it would actually get stronger because of the difficulty.
Examples of antifragility include boat planking that bends in conformity to a boat’s curves and becomes stronger, your muscles getting more explosive because you did not skip leg day, Silicon Valley getting more creative after software fails, and your heart increasing in efficiency after training for that marathon. In other words, to quote Nietzsche or Kelly Clarkson, depending on your questionable scholar of choice, “whatever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”
As great as it sounds, antifragility is increasingly lean these days. More and more examiners of our culture bemoan, instead of antifragility, a brittleness that has seeped into the West. Intolerant of differences, words are viewed as violence, debates as toxic, and disagreements as assaults on self-sovereignty. The concept of trauma is bloated to now include anything that’s done against individual ‘truths,’ and the obsession with eliminating threats, both real and perceived, celebrates the title of ‘victim’ whenever it’s convenient to do so. In short, fragility reigns.
Looking to Scripture, if there was anyone who was qualified for the title of ‘victim,’ Paul would certainly be in the running. Speaking often to his experience of gain from loss, and strength from pain he puts it well in words. One particular gem the Church has long been drawn to is found in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.