Learning How to Take a Punch

This is an expanded version of a blog post I wrote on a different blog of mine from several years back. I am a huge fan of the Rocky movies.  I know there is a certain element of cheesiness to them, but there is no other character in movies that teaches us about having heart like Rocky Balboa.  With every victory and with every defeat, Rocky learned that life is all about going the distance.  Rocky talks about the culmination of those lessons here in the movie Rocky Balboa.

We all know what it’s like to have life knock us down. Each one of us has experienced frustration, setbacks, trauma, and tragedy. We have experienced the pain of a gut punch that life has thrown at us, the breathlessness of feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

These moments hurt so much that we actively spend so much of our time and energy trying to avoid those moments. We try to control them, but those moments are inevitable.  They are out of our control. We will get hit and we will get hit hard.

How we respond matters.  What are we going to do when life punches us? Paul gives us some insight in Ephesians 6 when he discusses putting on the Armor of God.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We will never be able to overcome all of the difficulties of life in our own strength and power. Try as we might, there will be things that happen to us that are beyond our reason, understanding, and ability to cope. There will be moments when our own strength and courage will fail us. That is what Paul is getting at here. We need something more than our will power  when darkness closes in around us. We need Jesus.

When we look at this passage in Ephesians, I think Paul is reminding us of the most significant truth that any of us must deal with. We must deal with our need for Jesus. If we look closely, Paul is spelling that out for us. He uses phrases like “the belt of truth, “breastplate of righteousness”, and “shield of faith”. When we look at the scripture we learn that Jesus is truth (John 14:6). We learn that Jesus is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). We learn that Jesus is our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We learn that Jesus is our salvation (Acts 4:12).

Rocky is right. Life is going to hit us hard. He is also right in saying that we need to get back up when it does. What we need in order to defend ourselves, to fight back when it hurts, to stand back up again when we fall is Jesus. Jesus is all we have in those moments. When life throws a punch, we need to make sure we armored appropriately as Paul reminds us.

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