For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. Proverbs 24:16a (NIV 1984)
Our first kitten was a doozy. Her name was Tiger Lily—“Lily” was added to let folks know she was a girl, but “Tiger” was her name of choice. Her antics kept us wavering from laughter to consternation. Early in her career as a jumper, Tiger Lily repeatedly tried and failed to leap high enough to reach the top of our dining room hutch. It was an elusive goal that tormented her—and us as we watched her attempts and failures! She would size it up, then crouch and spring. She would hit the side of the hutch with a frightening force and fall to the ground over and over. We tried to warn her. We tried to stop her. We cringed. We marveled as she shook herself off from a fall and immediately launched, airborne, to try and fail again. What kind of crazy cat was this? They really do have nine lives. We felt like hers were getting used up all in one day.
Within a couple of days, though, Tiger Lily had mastered that jump and was queen of the hutch. Despite the thunks, the failures, our dire warnings, predictions, and interventions, she had tried and tried, again and again—and she did it! She enjoyed her reign on top of that hutch, her favorite perch, for many a year. Now that’s persistence.
In the Bible, we find a real live human example of getting up again. And again. The remarkable story of Joseph and repeated setbacks is found in Genesis 37-50. I encourage you to take the time and read the full story, but briefly, Joseph was hated by his brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt. He worked his way to the top as head over all his master’s possessions until he was falsely accused of rape—and imprisoned. Once again, he worked his way to the top and was put in charge of all the prisoners. At one point, Joseph had a chance at freedom, but, instead, another crushing disappointment. He was betrayed, forgotten, and languished in prison for another two years. Setback after setback. Joseph spent the best part of his young adulthood rising only to fall again.
Why didn’t he give up? What was his secret? He never stopped being Joseph, servant of the most High God. No matter what was thrown at him, he kept getting up and doing the right thing. Day after wearisome day, year after tiresome year. He served faithfully when things went well and when things went sour. He just did the right thing. And then at long last, in God’s good purpose and timing, Joseph was miraculously put in charge of all Egypt.
I want to be persistent and faithful like Joseph. Sometimes I, too, feel like my life is a series of setbacks. Everything seems to be going well, and then a crisis hits … again. I know I’m not alone. This is actually the human story. All of us face difficulties all of our lives. The times of relative calm are wonderful, but they don’t last. Jesus clearly told us that, “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), and we can pretty much expect it. The question is: what are we going to do with that latest trouble?
Proverbs 24:16 teaches us that the righteous man gets back up. Over and over again. Why? I believe it’s because the “righteous man” is the one who knows that he is only righteous because of Christ. Once we know we belong to Christ, we know how our story ends. We know that no hard thing in our life will ever be wasted or come without purpose. We know that God uses all things to shape us into the person we were meant to be, if we simply submit to the lessons within the trials. We know that God does, indeed, work all things together for great good. We never have a reason to despair. A happy ending really does await us, even if it’s not fully realized until we see Jesus face to face.
That’s what keeps us getting back up. The purpose of it all. The promise that someday it will all make sense. We’ll see how even the hard things were used in God’s plan for ultimate good and not harm. Let’s never stop being the ones God called us to be, servants of the most high God. Like Joseph, let’s keep serving and trusting day in and day out and leave the end results in the hands of the One who has a purpose for us in it all. Don’t ever stop getting back up.
Lord, forgive me when I want to sink into the pit when bad things happen. Help me to look for Your strong hand that is always available to haul me out and set my feet on the Rock once again. Father, I trust You. I trust that all You allow has purpose even if I can’t see it. I trust that the “getting back up” is what shows You my faith and what enables me to point others to You. Your plans are good. I thank You that the troubles I face, I don’t face alone. You are always with me. That alone makes my story a happy one! How I praise You in the name of Jesus who saves. Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)