If you’re living life, you’re going to take hits. That’s reality. Some of the hits are our own fault. We don’t listen to sound advice. We don’t listen to godly wisdom, such as from Scripture. We act before we check in with God. Some of the hits are the fault of others. A guy decides to drive drunk. A seemingly trustyworthy guy invests your money, but is really pulling a scheme that’s destined to fail. Someone is careless, lazy, or both. And some hits are just a part of life, like the natural disasters we’ve seen lately. How do we deal with the hits we take, especially when those hits take us down?
At The Citadel, one of the phrases upperclassmen taunt freshmen with goes like this, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” Now we know this isn’t true. There are a lot of things in life that can weaken us. We have a bout with the flu, for instance. So false bravado isn’t the answer. But staying down isn’t either, especially if we are Christians. Staying down means we’ve given up. It means we’ve let the world and our circumstances beat us. It means we’re relying on our own strength. And if we’re relying on our own strength, then we’re not listening to our Savior’s commands. When we get knocked down, it’s time to get back up, because there is still work to do:
“And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:22-24, NASB
Paul had suffered a lot for his calling from Christ. He talked about the fact that he knew bonds and affliction awaited him because he had heard from the Holy Spirit. But whatever life sent his way, regardless of the source, Paul continued living out his faith. He was going to finish it out. We know that he lived it out to the very end because of what he wrote to Timothy.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; – 2 Timothy 4:6-7, NASB
The last words there, “I have kept the faith,” hit home. If I have the luxury of facing my own death knowingly, as Paul did, I would love to be able to truthfully say that “I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” However, I can only say that if I keep trying, if I keep persevering, if I don’t quit. That means when life knocks me down, I have to get back up. I can’t stay down. I can’t let things pass me by. I’ve got to keep trying, I’ve got to keep leaning, and I’ve got to keep trusting in my Lord. Only then will I be able to say truthfully, “I have fought the good fight.” I want to to be able to speak those words and they be true. That should be our goal as Christians. And what it takes to say that is not avoiding the hits, but rather getting back up after one takes us down. We’re going to get hit. How do we respond after we do? Do we stay down, and let life pass us by, or do we get up and get going again?