"The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down." (Psalm 145:14)
In 1970, Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel released the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” By many people’s accounts, it’s one of the most beautiful songs to come out of that period.
“I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough, and friends just can’t be found. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”
Simon wrote that song to his wife. He wrote those promises to her. But sadly, five years later they were divorced.
If we’re honest, in spite of our good intentions to really be there for people, to stick with them “no matter what,” to love them “unconditionally,” our story often ends up the same. Hopefully it’s not our marriage that buckles under the pressure like Simon’s, but give us enough time, and we’re bound to let somebody down. At some point, we all collapse under the weight of those who are falling and who are bowed down.
At the same time, this reality is true for those we look to for strength. Yes, we can look to them for help, and yes it’s good to have friends in our struggles, but ultimately we cannot expect anyone on this planet to at all times have the strength, the perseverance, and the faithfulness to “uphold us” when we’re falling and to “raise us up” when we are bowed down.
Why is this? Because this is explicitly the work of the Lord of heaven and earth. If we look to another to be this “Bridge over the troubled waters” of our lives (and vice versa), we are expecting them to do something only God can do for us.
So we look to the Lord, the true Bridge over the troubled waters of our lives. Only he has the power to heal every disease. Only he can raise the dead, to create out of nothing. Only he has the strength to carry all our sins to the cross. Only he has the power to declare sinners into saints. And only he can promise to lift up those who are broken and bowed down and make good on his word.
Yes, God is faithful to the very ones we can’t handle: the poor in spirit, the weak, the needy, the helpless addicts, the seemingly useless ones. In other words, God is faithful to us because all have “fallen” and have been “bowed down” (whether it’s due to our own sin and fallenness or just merely being a member of a sinful and fallen world, no one’s unaffected, Romans 3:23).
For example, the apostle Paul was going through a mighty struggle in his life. He had what he referred to as a thorn in his side that just wouldn’t go away (Was it a specific sin he struggled with? Or was it a physical or mental ailment?) What that thorn was, only God and Paul know, but we do know this thorn had caused Paul to fall and be brought low. So three times he pleaded with the Lord to take away this terrible problem. Surely, if anyone’s prayer for deliverance and healing would be answered, it would be the mighty apostle Paul’s. But God said to him famously, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
Yes, even when he doesn’t take away the “troubled waters” of our life, he is the Bridge we can lean on no matter what storms may come our way.
So take heart and remember the same one who commands the waves to be still says to you today, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).