As I walked toward my usual coffee shop I spotted an unusual scene. Out in the afternoon sun, standing next to the parking lot's curb, right by the "Fire Lane" sign was a gathering of women. The group formed a circle around a random patio chair. A few ladies were kneeling while one held a glass of water with a tall straw. Even from afar it became apparent that something was not quite right.
I made my way to the group and saw a frail old woman with a full head of white hair and gigantic sunglasses seated in the oddly-located chair. She looked exhausted and visibly shaken. A sudden fainting spell was the last thing she had anticipated after a leisurely cup of coffee over the Sunday paper.
Between short, labored breaths she repeated apologies to the kind strangers who had come to her aid. When words failed her she just shook her head in disbelief at her predicament. As they all waited for the ambulance to arrive and assess her physical condition, the women assured her that she was no trouble at all. A worker from the cafe brought her a baguette and banana along with a big glass of cold water and moistened towel. Another woman kept her hand on the elderly woman's back for physical and moral support.
As the elderly woman tried to fight back tears one of the strangers knelt down before her and took her hands into her own. With conviction and love she reassured the elderly woman that she had no need to apologize. "Honey, don't you worry, we all fall down."
The kind words from a complete and utter stranger struck the elderly woman. She broke into a smile and lifted her head to meet the woman's gaze. She couldn't say much in return. This time her throat caught on a different kind of tears - tears of gratitude.
With the words of a stranger two hearts were touched that afternoon. I, too, needed to be reminded that we all fall down. But, just like the fallen woman in the parking lot, there is hope that I can get back up again.
When the ambulance arrived the EMTs did a thorough check of the woman and gave her a good report. No broken bones. Not even a scratch on her pale skin - a miraculous outcome considering the rough pavement that broke her fall. As they helped her into a waiting car her smile became wider and brighter. Her fall wasn't the end of her story. She was standing again, going home on her own two feet.
In my own life I've taken so many falls. Physically I've fallen on walks with the dogs while traversing the pavement of my familiar neighborhood. I've fallen into more MS relapses than I can count. My spirit has fallen into depression and hopelessness over my unpredictable, distressing and chronic health condition.
Like the elderly woman in the parking lot I've ended up on hard ground, shaken up and overwhelmed with despair.
But God is faithful and always comes beside me with words of comfort. "Don't worry, everyone falls down."
Every time I fall God speaks encouragement into my heart, reassuring me that the fall isn't the end. When I land on the hard ground with a thud and wonder how I'll ever rise to my feet again God breaths words of strength into my soul. He extends His mighty hand and lifts me up off the ground. My Helper God dusts me off and bandages my wounds. He restores my bruises and makes me new.
Each one of us will someday, someway tumble and fall. It is part of being human. But we don't need to lay on the ground in distress and worry because God will be the very first EMT to come to our aid. He is the faithful God of all comfort, our healer and friend. And He will be there every time we fall.