Have you ever tried to meet impossible expectations? Have you ever deluded yourself into believing that you could accomplish the impossible? And I’m not talking about standing up in the face of persecution. I’m not talking about even winning a battle no one said you could win. I’m talking truly impossible. Like walking on water or flying without a plane or trying to perfect.
Some things are impossible for us. We’re only human, right? We can do many things, but many things are still outside our reach. Being perfect is one of them.
Today’s verse is Psalm 37:24.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37 is one of my favorite Psalms. It’s calming and comforting and encouraging, and if you need a lift this morning, I really recommend reading through it.
What caught my eye this morning, however, is how this verse addresses the fact that we are going to stumble. Usually, I focus on the fact that we’ll never fall because God is holding us. But those three words at the beginning — “Though they stumble” — tell us a lot about God and a lot about ourselves.
I spent so much time as a child trying to be perfect. Because being perfect made people happy, and even then I was an indefatigable people pleaser. I would get so frustrated because I couldn’t be perfect. I could get close, but never all the way because as soon as I had a day when I didn’t do anything wrong, I was proud of it. And that blew the whole thing.
That mentality carried over into my adult years, and even though I knew that being perfect wasn’t what saved me, that didn’t stop me from trying. Perfection was the aim. Never taking a wrong step was the goal. I knew in my heart and in my mind that my actions didn’t make me righteous (Christ did that), but I had convinced myself that being perfect would make God happy. Obeying all His rules, all His laws, and never doing anything contrary to what He wanted: that was how I tried to live.
But I couldn’t do it. And at the end of the day, all I had was frustration, at myself for my imperfection and at God for setting me up to fail.
When perfection is your goal, you’ll never accomplish it. It is impossible for us to be perfect in any sense of the word. Even outside of believing and following Christ, perfection is impossible. In the secular realm, it’s less important actually, because people outside the church know they make mistakes and don’t have a problem learning from them so they don’t repeat them. But in the church, it’s a different story. If you follow Christ and you make a mistake, there must be something wrong with you. Right?
So how do you explain today’s verse?
I could go into detail about all the Scriptures that talk about our dual personalities and our struggle with desires that aren’t of God and how God understands all that, but the simple truth is that we are going to screw up. Because we’re only human. We are going to stumble. We’re going to trip over obstacles in our path. We’re going to trip over our own feet. Even if we try to avoid it, we’ll still stumble because we’re not perfect.
But God says that even though we stumble, we aren’t going to fall.
There’s a big difference between tripping over your feet and taking a nosedive in the mud. Tripping is uncomfortable. You can jar your back. You can twist your ankle. You can stub your toe. You can be afraid that you’re going to fall. That’s all part of stumbling. But falling is worse.
As long as you have God by the hand and don’t let go of Him, when you stumble, you won’t fall because He will hold you up.