I have always thought that the true test of a man’s character is not how he revels in victory but how he responds in the face of crushing defeat. Anyone can have a strong sense of self-worth when surrounded by adoring friends in the mountaintop experiences of life. But when you get pounded into the canvas of life and are trying to regain your senses, you are at a crossroads. How desperately do you want to get up? What is your true reason for living? What are your hopes and dreams now? Are you willing to get up and fight for them?
FEELING UNABLE TO GET BACK UP
Chapter 5 of the Gospel of John records an encounter at the pool of Bethesda between Jesus and a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. The man was one of a great number who had been knocked down by life: the “blind, the lame, the paralyzed” (verse 3). Jesus, knowing that this man had battled physical challenges for a long time, asked him an interesting question: “Do you want to get well?”
Let’s stop and consider this question. “Do you want to get well?” It seems obvious that the man was in a hopeless state and that he would give everything he had to be healed. And yet, there are people who have been lying on the canvas of life so far beyond the ten count that the knock-down punch became the knockout punch. They identify now so closely with the tragedy in their lives that they have a new and, well, we can use the word warped, sense of normalcy. The knockout punch defines them now. Their life started with life’s blow, and everything else is viewed in retrospect from the mental movies of that fateful moment.
DO NOT STAY SITTING
Right now, you are hurting. You are hurting from the life blow that either came from someone you trusted or it involved someone that you love. Your pain is legitimate and should not be trivialized or marginalized in any way. You are on the canvas of life because someone, or something, hurt you deeply. I understand your pain. But the question then becomes, “Do you want to get well?”
If you stay down then you allow your offender to bring pain to your life daily and even beyond as the moment will have a ripple effect on all those in your sphere of influence. For example, we hear stories of parents who lost a child to a disease, then expressed such rage and bitterness toward God that it poisoned their children who lived and debilitated their children’s personal relationship with Him.
IT IS UP TO YOU
Do you really want the tragedy to define you and to rob you of the life that God created you to live? If you want to be healed, then you must do what Jesus told the man in John 5 to do: “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8). The man turned to Jesus, received instruction, and was obedient to do what Jesus told him to do. And look at what happened: “At once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked” (John 5:9).
This man’s story can be your testimony. But you must be willing to stand! If you would like to learn more, there is a series about ten reasons why you can, and should, stand. We will consider how standing impacts you personally and then how your desire to get well influences others who are in your life. To reach them, simply follow this link to the series page.
About the book
The material in these lessons is taken from Dr. Mark Flattery’s book, Stand Firm: What to do When Life Knocks You Down. To find out more or to purchase the book, click here.