“Get up!…..Get up!!” How many times in our lives has someone yelled that at us? Many of us heard it almost daily as children, as a parent beckoned from the hallway on weekdays before school. Some of us heard it on the playground, after being knocked down by the school bully (I cannot personally relate, but plenty of boys from my old neighborhood can). At those moments on the playground, we heard it simultaneously from our friends, who wanted us to get up and show that bully who’s boss, and from the bully, who wanted us to get up, only so he could knock us right back down again.
Today, decades later, it’s not so different. There’s always something ready to knock us down in life. For those of us who acknowledge a spiritual realm, we acknowledge that there’s a bullyish enemy who loves to hit below the belt, and he’ll stop at nothing to not only knock us down, but keep us down. We have a choice… stay down and lose… or get up and fight. I wish we could just get up and move on, which we can when we’ve simply stumbled, but, when there’s a “bully” involved, there’s also a fight.
There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “Fall seven times, stand up eight,” which is very similar to Proverbs 24:16 which says, “Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” In other words, we fall…we rise…we fall…we rise…. To be honest with you, there have been times in my life where I believe (like the old woman in that commercial) that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Seriously, I’ve hit the ground so hard, and been kicked while I was down, that not only do I believe I CAN’T get up, but I’m so darn discouraged that I’m not sure I even WANT to get up. Can you relate? Those are moments where shame sets in, self-doubt, maybe even self-hatred. We start to wonder what went wrong and how we ended up here. There may even be whispers (in our own head, or words from another person) which come to us saying the dirt is exactly where we belong. Ouch….words like that can leave a mark. We start to wonder if we deserve to be on the ground, feeling so low, so worthless. Discouragement sets in…. depression is not far behind….the light we hoped to see at the end of this tunnel is nowhere in sight. We’re faced with a decision. Stay down and die, or get up and stand. I have been extremely blessed to have friends in my life who will look me square in the eye and say “Get up!” These are people who know the truth about me, who believe in me, and who will help me stand. They remind me of who I am when I cannot even bear to look at myself. But there have definitely been times in my life where I’ve felt extremely alone when I’ve been in the low, dark places, and for a time felt too weak and ashamed to tell even my closest friends the truth about my situation. This makes the getting up much harder.
The book of Ecclesiastes says, ” if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” There are many more verses about the importance of friends. One of my favorites is “a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs). The truth is, we need each other, God intended it that way. And when we’ve fallen, there’s nothing like a true friend, reaching out to us and saying, “Get up! You can do this. Get up.” Then there are those times when friends seem scarce, or we just can’t get ourselves to reach out at 3am, or there are no words to speak that can even describe the anguish in our hearts. It’s at those moments (and I’ve been there plenty) where we have but one place to look. We can look to the One who truly can bind up our broken hearts, the One who will comfort us in ways no one else can (and He does), the One who loves. Even when we’ve messed up everything, He holds nothing against us. Nothing. Ever. He is our ever present Help in times of trouble, even when the pain we feel seems unbearable, even when we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. He is there, always.
He is the one who spoke to the crippled man, “Get up.” And He says the same to us today. He is a friend like no other. And because I believe He holds the future, and He alone can make all things new, He is the One friend who I know will never let me down, will never leave me, will never forsake me. I am grateful for my friends, don’t get me wrong. But they are only people, like me. They fail, like me. Their capacity for love is limited, like mine. May we all seek to be the best friends that we can for one another. May we all look to the One who created it all, and may He lead us as we lend a hand to help each other up.