For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Proverbs 24:16
Every year I ask my freshman class, “Who would win in a fight, the Hulk or the Wolverine?” The point of the question is about how students have to be resilient if they are going to succeed in college. They must be the Wolverine, and no matter how many times they get knocked down by the intimidating institutions of the university, they will triumph if they just keep trying.
The question is whimsical but it has a historical element. The Wolverine reportedly first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #181 in 1974. He was created by artist Len Wein as an opponent who could take on the Hulk. Hence my encouragement to the freshman, “You can beat the Hulk, because you were made for this.”
Our text for today indicates a great source for my freshman, or any of us, to get that resilience. Walking in a right relationship with God will make us more than people who will fall. It will make us people who rise. The number 7 in this verse is probably symbolic. It doesn’t mean on the 8th fall we will be down for good. It means, no matter how many times we fall, the Lord will empower us to rise.
The righteous aren’t necessarily any tougher or stronger than the wicked. The difference is that they have the ability to rely on power beyond their own. No matter how many times they fall, the Lord has infinite power to raise them up again. When the wicked reach the end of their strength, they just lie where they fall with no one to help them.
Let’s walk in the ways of the Lord, depending on Him to raise us up every time we get knocked down. Our victory over the world is secure. Not because we are strong, but because we have the courage to keep trying in the strength of the Lord, no matter how many times we fall.