DOWN, BUT NOT OUT
When and how does one know when he has truly hit “rock bottom” in his life? Generally, there is no great ceremony or decree letting you know that you’ve descended to a point from which the only way is up—if that way is even a real prospect in your mind. We’ve all had low points in our lives and, with rare exception, we are aware when we are in the pits.
Pig sties, prison, cancer, loss of a child, war, famine, hunger, societal ostracization, poverty, failed marriage, broken home, and so forth. The list is endless. For many of us, however, we know that our bad times are not as devastating as they could have been and there are others who have had worse situations with which to deal than we have.
We may have never been starving in a pig sty (Luke 15:16), or beaten and imprisoned for doing good deeds and telling others about salvation in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:22-24), we have still wound up in dire circumstances. In the harshness of those times, do we quit, or do we press on?
I don’t think there is great merit in the fact that we fall on hard times, for whatever reason. Sometimes our situations are due to what others have done or not done; sometimes, they are of our own making. Such has been a fact of life since almost the beginning of time. Can anything good come from the bad in our lives? The Bible tells us it can…if we let it. James writes (James 1:2-4) that we should count it “all joy” when we meet various trials. These tests of our faith produce steadfastness (loyalty, unwaveringness, dependability, steadiness, inflexibility, etc.). The end result being perfection, completeness in us.
Our need is not to wallow in our misery and give up, but rather to get up and keep trying. The Lord indicates God’s limitless desire to forgive us in His response to Peter’s well-meant question about how often he needs to forgive his brother (Matt. 18:21-22). Jesus said he should not stop at seven times, but “seventy times seven”; endless. Jesus admonished the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more,” showing that God forgives and expects us to move on to better things (John 8:1-11). God lifts us up when we humble ourselves before Him (James 4:10).
“For great is Your steadfast love toward me; You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (Psalm 86:13; read the entire Psalm).
[This article is prompted by something I have been thinking about since a recent study with some men in jail who knew they had hit bottom and are committed to do better when they are released.]