A man asked a monk, “What do you monks do in the monastery?”
The monk’s reply: “We fall down and we get up.”
I have in my home a Japanese wall scroll reading 七転八起. Shichiten hakki is a Japanese proverb which means, roughly: Fall down seven times; get up eight. It is an encouragement to continue despite failures and opposition.
A friend learned Tae Kwon Do in the military. He was dismayed to find out that his first lessons were not how to kick or punch – but how to fall. Anyone can get knocked down, but a fighter needs to know how not to be injured when he falls, and how to quickly get back on his feet and deal with his attacker.
The Christian life has been called a long obedience in the same direction; and the Christian is not one who never fails or falls, but “he who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Mt 24:13). “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12).
“Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise… Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Heb 10:35-36;12:1-2)
In his collection of letters to monks in India, St John Karpathos wrote:
My brethren, do all that is in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall, but, if you do fall, get up again at once, and continue the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times, because of the withdrawal of God’s grace, rise up again at each time, and keep on doing so until the day of your death. For it is written: “If a righteous man falls seven times,” that is, repeatedly throughout his life, “seven times shall he rise again” (Pr 24:16).
All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall. In reality, we fall into a trap set by the demons. The Holy Fathers and the Saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God”. Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back. What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep on going, all the while asking for help from God.
— Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, in Our Thoughts Determine our Lives
If you fall, rise and you shall be saved.’ You are a sinner, you continually fall, learn also how to rise; be careful to acquire this wisdom. This is what the wisdom consists in: learning by heart the psalm, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy” (Ps 50) inspired by the Holy Spirit to the king and prophet David, and say it with sincere faith and trust, with a contrite and humble heart. After your sincere repentance, expressed in the words of King David, the forgiveness of your sins shall immediately shine upon you from the Lord, and your spiritual powers will be at peace. The most important thing in life is to be zealous for mutual love, and not to judge anyone. Everybody shall answer for himself to God, and you must look to yourself. Beware of malice.
— St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
A fish that is alive swims against the flow of water. One that is dead floats down with the water. A true Christian goes against the current of a sinful age. A false one is swept away by its swiftness.
— Saint Philaret of Moscow