Taking Punches but Not Going Down
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
— 2 Corinthians 4:8 NKJ
“God, I know that if you bring me to it, you will bring me through it. I know you have a plan, but quite honestly I don’t see it right now. But I know it’s there. I know I have to believe. I know I need to have faith. I have to trust you. And I do trust you. But it’s hard right now.”
— Drew Brees
One of my favorite Rocky movie scenes of all time is in film number III when Clubber Lang (Mr.T) is being interviewed about his upcoming fight with Rocky Balboa. After being asked what was his prediction Mr. T, with his Mohawk haircut and enraged eyes, stares into the camera, and growls, “Pain.” Later, in the ring, he followed up upon his prediction by destroying Rocky, knocking him out.
It was brutal.
There are times when life delivers Mr. T kind of blows and like Rocky, we don’t absorb them and get knocked out. For Rocky, it looked like it was all over. That may be you. It looks like everything is over. But if you saw the movie, you know what happened next. Rocky reassessed his situation. Saw himself as the champion that he knew he was. He then made a choice and reached down deep for inspiration. He retrained. He ignited and got back in the fight. This time, the results were different. It was lights out for Mr. T. 86
It’s a given. Men who are in Christ will face trials, hardships, and suffering at some point in their lives. God takes you through tough times of training and uses them to bring about His character. How we respond to them is a reflection of our trust in Him to produce perseverance, character, and hope in us.
On many occasions, the warrior David was hard-pressed, perplexed, and struck down. He took jabs, punches from life, and his enemies. Once, he cried out to God, “… have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain…” (Psalms 2516-18).
This is David the Giant-killer. The same one that killed a bear and a lion and that lead Israel to victory! He’s a warrior, a leader. Yet, he experienced great pain. What set David apart as “a man after God’s own heart” however, was in the midst of his failures and pain he always knew he belonged to God. Once, when David and his men approached the city of Ziklag they discovered that the Amalekites had raided it, burned it with fire, and carried off all the women and children. Ziklag was a city under David’s domain. David was devastated as were his followers. What got him through however was he strengthened himself, not in people, not in getting encouragement from friends and yes-men, but in the Lord. “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).
Wow. David’s only hope of encouragement was in the Lord his God.
David never denied the reality of his situation, but he knew the Lord was his God. Do you know that? Listen to what David says just one verse later after all his lamenting,
“O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee” (Psalm 25:20 NKJ). David chose, by an act of his will, to put his trust in God. In the next chapter he wrote, “I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide” (Psalm 26:1 NKJ).
“Therefore I shall not slide.” I like that. Everything around David appeared to be crumbling and slipping away, yet David affirmed that regardless of what it looked like, he was not going to be moved. Like a champion boxer, because of his confidence in God, his feet were firm and set and he would not swerve away from his Godly purpose of life. At the end of the chapter, he declares, “My foot stands in an even place; In the congregations, I will bless the LORD” (Psalm 26:12 NKJ). In other words, “Whatever I’m going through, I have taken my stand. I’m firmly planted on solid ground. I’m not moving and I will proclaim God’s goodness to those around me.”
David acknowledges God and refuses to blame him for injustice. He embraces the struggle and holds fast to his faith in the Almighty God. Like the Apostle Paul, he understood with God in our corner, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8).
Sometimes our biggest battle is to believe God is with us when trials assault us. It doesn’t seem fair that bad things happen, when we are in pain or when we are watching the ones we love suffer. During these times there are no easy answers. We just have to keep fighting. Like David, we must set our feet firm, take courage, and choose to believe God is real and alive and working His purposes in us. Refuse to let the punches and jabs 88
that life can throw cause you to lose heart. “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might, He increases strength,” (Isaiah 40:29).
Prayer to IGNITE:
God your word says as long as I’m in the world there will be tribulations. Help me to embrace the struggle. Show me how to have peace in the midst of my trials and strengthen myself in you, to know that you Lord are my God.