I’ll admit it – I love Marvel movies. In fact, I even choose sides. When it comes to Avengers Civil War – I am firmly on Team Cap. As much as I appreciate a witty quip and snarky backatcha, Captain America moves me more than Iron Man. So, when my husband was rewatching Civil War last evening, I happily joined him. We were almost at the end when it happened. I had forgotten about this particular interaction between the two heroes – one fighting to protect his friend – the other seeking vengeance for the death of his parents. Tony had beaten Steve badly and was making his way toward Bucky when he sees Cap struggling to rise; Tony turns to him and says, “Stay down.”
The scene is heart wrenching, compelling, and for me – personal.
Growing up before the days of zero-tolerance policies and online personas – kids fought. Bullies were tolerated for only as long as it took someone to stand up to them, and that didn’t take forever. We fought on the playgrounds, outside our apartments and even in our homes. My most frequent adversary was my older brother. Four years my senior, you might assume he had it easy. Not so much. Sure he was stronger and bigger and relentless, but I was stubborn. So the moment I heard Iron Man tell Captain America to “stay down,” I was transported back thirty-some-odd years. Bruised, battered, crumpled-up in pain on the floor with tears streaming down my face, my brother was standing over me saying, “just stay down so I don’t have to keep hitting you.” But every cell in my body revolted, willing me to rise – again, and again, and again. I would never just, “stay down.”
I think that’s why I love that old adage, “It’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up that matters.”
Sometimes life can do that too. It can beat you up, spit you out and implore you to give up. “Stay down,” life says as it bombards you with one catastrophic wave of terrible circumstances after another. Buffeted by each new grief or struggle, you might even feel like you just don’t have the strength to go on. Sometimes, the pain is too great, the beating is too long, and you can barely catch your breath. Sometimes, your body gives out and convinces your will to do the same because life’s punches are so much harder than fists.
Don’t give up; don’t “stay down.”
You may not have the strength to get up on your own, but there is One who can lift you out of the deepest depths of despair and raise you to the mountain tops. There is One who hears our cries, knows our longings, and is stronger than our every weakness. There is One who can fight the battle for us, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
2 Chronicles 20: 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”