Proverbs 24:16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,
but the wicked are brought down by calamity.
It’s not a question of whether we will have difficulties; Jesus stated emphatically that we would. (John 16:33) The question is rather what happens to us after the difficulties, and this verse addresses that. The Japanese has an interesting nuance that doesn’t come through in the NIV: “Even though the righteous may fall seven times, they will get up again. The wicked stumble and are destroyed.” In other words, a righteous person can have repeated, major problems and still recover, but a wicked person can be done in by something minor. (That probably seemed illogical to the NIV translators, so they said “calamity” for the wicked.) We need to remember that “In all these things we are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37) We have no reason to go around dreading things, because whatever happens, God will bring us through it. Of course, all I have said presupposes that we are righteous. As has come out recently, none of us is righteous in ourselves, but if we walk by faith in Jesus Christ, we are made to be the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) That puts us in the category of those who always recover.
Naturally, this applies to me as much as it applies to anyone. I have had difficulties, and at the time, some of them seemed pretty severe. However, in retrospect, they all look pretty minor! I can say with Paul that my troubles are light and momentary! (2 Corinthians 4:17) The more things God takes me through, the more assurance I have that He can take me through anything! I am well aware that in Biblical numerology, seven indicates perfection or completion, so this verse is saying that even if I encounter a “perfect storm” of difficulties, by God’s grace I will stand tall again after it has past. As a pastor, I need to communicate this assurance to others. However, in doing so I must be careful not to belittle the difficulties of the person I’m dealing with. All difficulties seem great to the person in the middle of them, and if I’m not careful, I can make people feel badly disrespected. I am to “weep with those who weep,” (Romans 12:15) but at the same time point them to Christ, who will take them through whatever they are in the middle of.
Father that last point is one where I have tripped up in the past. Help me communicate Your love and acceptance to all, while not leaving them where they are. You have done that for me more times than I could count; help me be an effective agent of Your grace to others, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!