I've Fallen, and I Can't Get Up!

All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. 10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things_ thou art God alone..png

Those of you who have followed my ministry for any length of time know that I have a warped sense of humor. It’s the way God made me, and I don’t apologize for it. Today, I want to share with you a story in the Bible I find both sad and hilarious. How can it be both? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
— I Samuel 5:1-5

“Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” I’m sorry, but that’s funny. To clarify for those of you who may not know, Dagon was the god of the Philistines. He was the one to whom they gave their allegiance. He was supposedly their almighty provider and protector. But here, in the presence of the One, True God, Dagon toppled to the floor. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he fell to his knees in worship, but the fact of the matter is, God literally knocked him off his pedestal and then decapitated him. In the words of the Incredible Hulk, “Puny god!”

Can you imagine being one of the Philistines who first enters Dagon’s house to find their god lying facedown on the floor? What would you say? What would you do? Like those in the Biblical account, you’d probably place your “god” back on his “throne” and consider it a good deed. But what happens when you come back the next day, and your “god” has not only fallen again but has also been decapitated? There’s no picking him up and replacing him on his pedestal at that point, is there?

Aren’t you glad we serve a God who lifts us up instead of the other way around? What a relief to know I’ll never find God lying down on the job or fallen to a place where He can’t even help Himself let alone anyone else. My God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords. No other “god” can compare. No other “god” can save. No other “god” can lift me out of the miry clay and set my feet on the solid rock.  No other “god” will do. So why would we put our trust in any other?

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
— Isaiah 45:5-6

When I read the account of Dagon, this clip always comes to my mind. Talk about hilarious!

Faith as a Characteristic of Love

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
— Hebrews 11:1

Faith.  The very foundation of salvation and an integral part of love.  Let’s face it; it’s difficult to love someone when we don’t trust that person or feel we can’t count on them.  Doubt leads to bitterness, resentment, and other hard feels while faith leads to love, understanding, and joy.  Isn’t it amazing how much these characteristics of love intertwine with one another?

In the love chapter, we see two descriptions that specifically point to faith.  One of them we’ve already linked with another characteristic, but as we’ve already seen through the course of this study, several of them could fall under different categories.  Let’s examine the two statements about how love and faith are connected.

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
— I Corinthians 13:7

If we zero in on the middle of the verse, we’ll see faith in action.  It believes and hopes all things.  Not just some things.  It isn’t limited to things we understand or circumstances we desire.  No, "all things" literally means all things: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In the nasty now and now, it’s easy to lose faith.  For example, after countless visits to the chiropractor, my joints refuse to stabilize.  My latest attempt at strength training (in hopes of building up enough strength in the muscle to protect and secure the joints) resulted in severe back trauma that is still giving me fits.  This, of course, put me in the place where I wasn’t able to exercise, and so the cycle began again.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve repeated this process, yet healing still seems so very far away.  When the masseuse at the chiropractor commented in horror about the knots in my shoulders and neck, I nearly broke into tears.  

Yes, it’s easy to lose faith.  Many times, I’ve given in to the false idea that things will never change.  I’ll never get better.  If anything, things will only continue to get worse.  Isn’t that what happens with age?  Goodbye, hope.  Goodbye, peace.  Goodbye, joy.  Hello, depression and despair.  (The comical song from the old show Hee-Haw just ran through my mind—“If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  Gloom, despair, and agony on me.”  That sums up what my attitude is like when I turn my back on faith and choose hopelessness instead.

Hopelessness has never helped anyone.  It merely serves as a breeding ground for discontentment, discouragement, and defeat.  But faith, ah, faith can move mountains.  Faith not only believes God can but also acts like He will.  It trusts facts over feelings.  Faith refuses to give up or give in.  Why?  Because of love.

I love God enough to trust He can heal me.  I love Jason too much to give up on myself and allow myself to wallow in self-pity for the rest of my days.  And I love myself enough to keep on keeping on.  Is it difficult?  Gracious, yes!  Are there times I falter?  More times than I can count.  But here’s the blessing of all blessings—God loves me too much to give up on me.  He knows what I’m capable of.  He knows the blessings He has in store for me.  And He loves me enough that He encourages me to keep going, to keep believing, to hold fast to hope. 

Believe me, my friend, He’ll do the same for you! 

What To Do When You Don't Get the Desired Outcome

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Today’s devotion is for all of those out there who know what it’s like to be frustrated, disappointed, and confused. I am writing to each of the following:

 • The pastor who is preaching the truth but still not seeing the church growth or participation he expected
 • The overweight individual who has been faithful with diet and exercise for months but sees no visible results from the effort and discipline
 • The employee who obeys all the rules and goes above and beyond the call of duty yet is passed up for the promotion for the third time in a row
 • The parent who has shed tears and prayed prayers over their wayward child but has yet to see any fruit from their intercession
 • The teenager who had enough courage to take a stand for Christ only to find himself ridiculed and cast out by those whom he called friends
 • The wife who loved her husband and did her best to respect and honor him though it didn’t stop him from walking away and leaving her alone to raise their children
 • To anyone who has ever had a dream and worked hard to see that dream come to fruition only to watch it go up in smoke

Yes, today I want to address those who are hurt and brokenhearted. Those whose daily cry is, “Lord, I don’t understand. I did everything right. I was faithful to You, to my family, to my church, to my job. I did my best and trusted You, but it hasn’t paid off. What happened to the concept of sowing and reaping? I’ve sown a lot, but I have reaped nothing!” It seems so cruel, doesn’t it? So unfair. After all, there are plenty of people out there living it up, thinking only of themselves, yet they seem to get anything and everything they want. But I assure you, it just seems that way. In reality, most of those people are missing the only thing that really matters—Jesus.

So, how should we respond when we’ve done the work, prayed the prayers, put forth the effort, but seen no results? The last chapter of the book of Habakkuk gives us a good idea.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
— Habakkuk 3:17-19

If we don’t get the results we want, the outcomes we desire, the conclusions we hoped for, we should rejoice. Say what? That goes against our human logic, doesn’t it? Our default setting is to complain when things don’t go our way, not rejoice. But just because that’s our standard response doesn’t mean it’s the right one. Nope, according to the Bible (in several passages, in fact), the appropriate reaction to disappointment is praise. Why? Because no matter what’s going on in our lives, God is good and worthy of our worship. Despite our outward circumstances, we can rejoice because we have something that can never be taken away. When others forsake us, we still have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. And though it seems like our efforts aren’t paying off down here, God is keeping a record of every work we do for Him, and there will be a day of reckoning.

So, don’t lose heart, dear one. Keep doing the right thing. Don’t give up because you don’t see the results for which you were hoping. Your efforts are not in vain, so rejoice in that. Joy in the God who is Your constant Friend, your strength, your refuge, and so much more. And one day, you’ll see it was worth it all!