Wednesday Writings

Why We Fall: Chronic Illness, Batman, and 2 Corinthians, Part 2

Last week I shared the story of a fall I’d recently taken–a fall into discouragement–and the way God’s Word in II Corinthians helped me back onto my feet, parallel to the iconic “Why do we fall?” moment from the movie Batman Begins. We also saw two reasons behind why we as believers (and humans) fall in life.

Today we’re going to discuss five more reasons for our falls and how God can use them for good.

“Why Do We Fall?”

3. To see God pick us up

II Corinthians 1:3-4 identifies God as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation.”

When we fall, God comforts us.

I love what Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary on II Corinthians:

The words comfort or consolation (same root word in the Greek) are repeated ten times in 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. We must not think of comfort in terms of ‘sympathy,’ because sympathy can weaken us instead of strengthen us. God does not pat us on the head and give us a piece of candy or a toy to distract our attention from our troubles. No, He puts strength into our hearts so we can face our trials and triumph over them. Our English word comfort comes from two Latin words [com = with, fort = strength] meaning ‘with strength.’ The Greek word means ‘to come alongside and help.’ It is the same word used for the Holy Spirit (‘the Comforter’) in John 14-16.

The Bible Exposition Commentary, p. 629

If not for our hardship, how would we know God’s comfort? If not for our pain, how would we know His solace? If not for our need, how would we know His provision? (See The Beauty of Dependence.)

Yes, it hurts when we fall, but we also get to experience the infinite, sweet tenderness of God’s special care as He lovingly picks us up again.

4. To be humbled

Imagine if we never fell. If we never tripped up, stumbled, barked our shins, or landed flat on our face.

It’s a humbling experience to fall. I know. I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit. But that’s good, because otherwise we might get puffed up with that toxic element called pride.

Paul was there too:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 

II Corinthians 12:7-9

When we fall, we remember we’re imperfect humans who need God’s grace, every moment of every day.

5. To comfort others

Have you ever been able to encourage someone else through a hard time that you yourself had experienced? Or counseled someone in a fight against a sin you once wrestled with? Or simply provided a wordless hug of understanding in a moment of grief?

This is what Paul describes in the rest of II Corinthians 1:4

Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Part of why we fall is so that we can, as a result of our experience and God’s accompanying grace, be equipped to specifically comfort others who have also fallen.

This is one of the richest blessings of Christian community and our heartbeat for The Valley’s ministry!

6. To learn to keep going

Let’s look at where else this command against giving up appears in the Bible (emphasis added in each example):

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Hebrews 12:5-6

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Hebrews 12:3

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9

And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.

Revelation 2:3

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:58

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:79

And these are just a few examples. The point is clear: God does not want us to give up. Ever.

We fall so we can learn what Bruce Wayne learned, first as a boy and later as the crime-fighting superhero Batman: the art of getting back on our feet. The discipline of persevering in the task assigned to us. The need to continue our mission, no matter how hard it is.

7. To see God’s power

This ability to get back us, does it come from us or does it come from God?

I hope you can recognize what Scripture makes clear: that this buoyancy, if you will, this inability to be knocked down and stay down, this relentless hope that brings us back to our feet and sets us back on the path God has for us, comes from God’s own Spirit within us.

Yes, we fall, but we don’t stay down. We can’t, because we have God’s power within us, and God is undefeatable. As a result, every time we get back up, brushing ourselves off, shaking off the dirt and the ache, and put one foot in front of the other again, we show the unconquerable power of God.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

II Corinthians 4:7-9

Here are some other passages about falling:

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise;
When I sit in darkness,
The LORD will be a light to me.

Micah 7:8

You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But the LORD helped me.

Psalm 118:13

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved [in Spanish, “to remain fallen”].

Psalm 55:22

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.

Proverbs 24:16

There the workers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been cast down and are not able to rise.

Psalm 36:12

These passages present a clear contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous: those with God fall and get back up, even if they fall many times. Those without God, however, fall and “are not able to rise.”

We fall so that we and others around us can see this supernatural power of God.

Come back in two weeks for the final reason for our falls and some practical tips for getting back on our feet!

What have you learned from your falls? What special gifts of God’s grace and comfort have you seen? How have you been able to comfort others?

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