“I dare you to move; I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor.” (Switchfoot, “Dare You to Move”)
Three weeks after my son died, I was lying on top of his grave, sobbing with inconsolable grief. It seemed impossible to take in everything; to know that I would never see my son again in this life; to think of everything he was supposed to experience in a long life but now would never do; to imagine the rest of my life without him.
I paused from crying for a moment and noticed that one of my eyes was looking at the grass, and my other eye was looking up at the sky. A very distinct thought came to me: “I’m still here. I’m still here on the other side of my son’s grave. Here on earth. It’s not my time yet, because God still has a purpose for me here.”
The thought gave me courage. This was God’s will for me: to go on without my son. I determined right then and there that I would not give up, that I would not waste what was left of my life, even though it seemed like a complete shipwreck at the time.
Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of days to come when I didn’t think I could make it another moment, when I thought my heart would stop from utter desolation. For many months there was a revolving door at my home with people going in and out of my life, doing what they could to keep me alive until I was able to breathe on my own again. It took a long time for me not to want to die myself. I thought of the psalmist who declared:
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
You may be lying on the ground right now. You may feel like you can never get over what has just happened to you—or what you have done to someone or something. You may be feeling that life just isn’t worth living anymore, that you have made such a mess of things, or that life has dealt you too many blows. You are down for the count. Will you get up? Will you move?
First off, I want to encourage you that it’s okay to stay on the ground for a while. It’s okay to grieve your loss, what might have been, what now will never be. But here’s the thing: you can’t stay lying down forever. Just like the boxer who needs to get off the mat before the referee counts to ten, you need to get up at some point and live. If you stay on that ground too long, it will be harder and harder to move.
The thing about our feelings is that they aren’t objective. They are emotions that can control us to the point of incapacitating us. This is why it is important to understand the truth of God’s Word, to know that our circumstances don’t have the last word, because God does. God is bigger than any situation in which you find yourself. He can redeem anything that has happened to you or will happen to you.
Even if you can only crawl to start with, that’s okay too. God knows everything you are going through right now, and he can—and does—make the most beautiful things out of the biggest tragedies of life. If you don’t believe this, just think of the cross of Jesus Christ:
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
God will help you each step along the way, through the most seemingly ordinary things of life, even if you cannot discern his sure and steady hand in all he wills.
If you are still breathing, God is not finished with the work he is doing in your life. You have purpose, and that purpose is to live to the glory of God. It’s okay to be afraid; that’s a normal human emotion. It’s okay to feel like a complete failure. That’s why Jesus came. He came because you and I couldn’t be what we need to be. Trust in Christ as your savior, and take courage, “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Maybe you’re not on the ground right now, but you know people who are. Don’t leave them there. Reach down and help drag them toward the finish line (2 Tim. 4:7). Someday they may be dragging you there.