A few days ago I was talking with a coworker about one of our acquaintances who had been having a run of bad luck. We were amazed that no matter what blows she experienced, she seemed to bounce back to her usual, optimistic self in what seemed to us to be an unusually short time. We agreed that her strong faith probably played a role in her rapid recovery.
Thinking of how she “bounced back” made me remember a term I learned in Physics class. The phrase “coefficient of restitution” has stuck in my head ever since for its lovely mouthful of syllables as much as for the physical property it expressed.
The coefficient of restitution is a number which indicates how much kinetic energy (energy of motion) remains after a collision of two objects.
In simplest terms, if an object has a high coefficient of restitution (C of R) it will bounce back when thrown against a hard surface, retaining its original shape, while something with a very low C of R tends to go “splat!”
What determines an object’s C of R, is the material from which it is made. Steel has a high C of R and mashed potatoes don’t. It is not a matter of positive thinking or lack of concentration that makes the difference.
So, why do some people, like my acquaintance, seem to bounce back repeatedly from the hard impacts of her life, while others fall apart like a spoonful of spuds at the first knock? After all, their basic physical make-up is the same.
However, people have more than physical properties. They have emotional and spiritual components, as well.
I believe that, for people, it is the spiritual component that determines our C of R, more than anything else.
Faith in a God of love as described in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose”, gives one the resiliency to bounce back from the assaults and insults of this world, again and again.