This is a masterful book and if you haven’t already discovered Macdonald for yourself (he has written a bunch of really helpful titles) then you should stop reading this and go learn more about him and pick up whichever of his titles looks most likely to scratch an itch of yours.
A Resilient Life is a wonderful depiction of how to set up one’s life to accomplish the sort of flourishing God intends for each of us. Right off the bat I loved that Macdonald is an older pastor and he sees it entirely likely that for someone in their seventies the best, most productive, most God-honoring and fruitful, part of life is still ahead. It is a refreshing and meaningful posture to take in life, no matter what one has already accomplished.
One of my favorite sections of the book was on the need to have a close circle of friends, “my happy few” Macdonald calls them. We are not meant to be alone, we are herd animals and lovers. We need cheering on, we need rebuking, we need love, and patience, and kindness, and countless other things that only close friends can supply. Especially fun in this section was the breakdown of what sorts of characters should inhabit the circle of friends.
One of the issues one needs to settle when approaching the goals and purposes of a life is what feelings do we want to have about our lives? “Perhaps” suggest Macdonald, “satisfaction is more important than enjoyment in the long view of life.” I tend to think of contentment as the aim but reading this book I see that a lot of what I mean by contentment is captured in satisfaction. It’s important to think about these things (for me) because as Macdonald claims, “you folks under forty? In actuality, most of what you’re doing now is simply running the first laps of the race” and if I want to finish well, with satisfaction that is, I must take care to run the early portions with the end in view.
The book covers a variety of aspects of the good life. What does it mean to be generous? Or what the roles of memory, forgiveness, gratitude, lingering, friendship, are. I believe that it is very easy for all of us to get into ruts and routines and so I believe it can be good to revisit old questions (and answers) to see whether our perspective has changed or become importantly nuanced since we last looked at them. This sort of book helps us do just that.