"A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again." Proverbs 24:16
Success and failure are unavoidable parts of life. They follow one another inexorably. That is part of Solomon's wisdom. We love to focus on the fact that the man who falls seven times gets up a seventh time, but there is so much more to this proverb than simply getting up. It teaches us a great deal about life.
Think of where you are in life right now. Is it a pleasant time? Or is it harsh? A mixture of both? Now think of how many times you have experienced both spiritual highs and lows. That number far exceeds seven. It is probably countless.
Let's look closer at the experiences of falling down and getting up. Falling down often happens by your own hand. You have made a mistake. You're facing the consequences of some bad decisions. We all bear the scars of tripping over our own feet.
Other times the fall is simply a matter of the difficulties of life. Something goes wrong with someone close to you. Or your company downsizes. Someone dies. The ways life can beat you up are endless. Sometimes you feel as if getting beaten up is your only experience.
The good news is that God always gives us the necessary strength to rise again. I believe God fills in where we are weakest. He takes our best and raises it to adequacy. In other words, He wants us to exercise our faith to the very best of our ability to rise again. But some of you reading this right now feel so "fallen" that you are close to giving up. God fills in where you fall short. He bears you up. He keeps you in the palm of His hand. He lifts your head above the discouragement.
We are all involved in the endless rhythm of falling down and rising again. This means the spiritual low points are not a final verdict on your value as a human being. But neither are the highs a guarantee of having ultimately and finally made it. No one is bad enough to fall beyond God's reach. No one is good enough to avoid falling. We all simply have to get up after we fall.
Winston Churchill said "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” He sounds like Solomon three thousand years later.
What we must cultivate is a trusting determination and courage to continue. You may have already tried and become discouraged. You have no real choice but to try again. It's time. Reclaim your faith, rise to your knees, and then stand as the son or daughter God made you to be.
Dr. Terry Ellis
August 27, 2013