My favorite movie trilogy ever is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises…you know, the good Batman played by Christian Bale – NOT the creepy bat-suit-with-nipples George Clooney/Val Kilmer series). I thought that Nolan’s series really got into the mind of someone (Bruce Wayne) who had the power and will to make a difference – EVEN in an extreme way, by becoming a superhero. No superpowers. No alien abilities. Just a normal person using the (incredible) resources at hand to change the world.
But the series also made it real that failure, discouragement, and opposition hide at nearly every decision point. It never held back that – in spite of all your efforts and resources – you CAN and WILL get knocked down. You will get hurt. You will fail. You will fall.
Early in the first movie, Bruce falls down an abandoned well and encounters a swarm of bats. Injured and terrified, he is rescued by his father, Thomas Wayne. While Bruce is recovering, his father tells him something very simple, but very wise:
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
“So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” After his mansion is burned to the ground by his enemies and Bruce (having become Batman) is doubting all his efforts, his butler and friend Alfred echoes the same line:
“Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
Over and over in the trilogy, this theme arises – that falling is an opportunity to pick ourselves up. In fact, it is THE driving force of the third film – as Bruce Wayne/Batman has to rise up to fight again after an agonizing defeat. Even if you are not a fan of superhero movies, the story is inspiring.
Why the pseudo-movie-review? Because lately, I have felt opposition. I have felt discouraged. I have felt like I have been knocked down.
For the first 3 months of my journey into answering a call from God (to do something that is still being revealed to me), I have felt nothing but excitement. Okay, maybe a few days have had their doses of terror and moments of questioning my own rationality. But overall, I have never felt closer to answering God’s unique calling for my life – and, thus, never more empowered or ready to take on the world.
But this past week has been hard. In fact, it has been THE hardest season of ministry that I have ever faced. Many things seem to be crashing around me simultaneously. My head literally feels like it’s spinning at times, as I realize the cost of answering a calling from God and the reality that there will be many days where the sun does not seem to shine (even when it’s out) and that not everyone understands or supports what it is that I’m trying to do. There is so much pain at the thought of things I’ve left behind. There is so much fear of what decisions I will have to make as I plow ahead. And if I am to be honest, this week has utterly overwhelmed me.
It is the feeling of falling down.
As I have been laying here – fallen, wounded – I almost hear that line from the movie. “Why do we fall?” But it is not a line from a script that I hear. It is something else. It is a phrase much more ancient, and much more encouraging than anything Thomas Wayne could crank out. I hear:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.
We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.
We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
We fall, but we get…back…up.
These are not hollow words. This is not empty encouragement, where we rely on our OWN efforts. This is not like that sappy poster of the kitten hanging from the bar that says, “Hang in there!” As much as Thomas Wayne did encourage Bruce by telling him that falling down is a chance for us to pick OURSELVES up again, we have access to something greater. We do not have to rely on ourselves. By the power of GOD we can stand back up. We are not crushed. We are not driven to despair. We are not abandoned by God. We are not destroyed. Why?
Because God is WITH us. And because he is with us…because he is with me…I am being picked back up. I am discouraged, but not done. I am overwhelmed, but my journey is not over. I am hurting, but I am healing.
Paul can say what he says because he knows the power of God to be real:
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17
When we get knocked down, we all have a choice. We can wallow in our misery and lash out at the people or situations that knocked us down. Or…
We can rise.