I have this scene that I replay in my head sometimes.
There are two men in a boxing ring. One of the men obviously has the upper hand in the fight. He’s going strong and he’s confident he will win this. He throws a punch that knocks the wind right out of the other guy, all while barely breaking a sweat. His mind is laser focused on one thing: to conquer his opponent. And his opponent? Well, he is no match for his competition.
The other guy lays down on the mat struggling to capture a breath. He suddenly finds himself on his feet again, although he has no idea how he got there, and he stumbles toward the first man, aimlessly throwing a punch in his general direction. This wasn’t his first fight of the day. He had already been in the ring twice before. He lost both of those fights too. And yet, he was determined to not be defeated, so he entered the ring a third time, already bloody and bruised. He musters every last ounce of strength to raise his fist again. Boom, another blow to the face. Time stops. And for a second he remains motionless, stunned by the blow. Time starts again, and he turns his cheek back, this time lifting both of his arms in one last effort to fight back. BOOM! The massive blow to his now unprotected gut sends him collapsing into a bloody, defenseless pile on the ground. He opens his eyes to see his opponent looking down at him with victorious eyes, and he then he closes them again as he hears the referee count: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten….
He is defeated.
Why do I replay this scene? Well it’s certainly not because I have some strange affinity for boxing, I’ll tell you that much. That second guy? The bloody and bruised one? That’s been me so many times. Just as I finally start to feel like I’m gaining some traction in life, BOOM! Life sucker punches me right in the gut and sends me reeling back down to the ground defenseless.
My husband and I both experienced this feeling several times within the past year and a half or so. Losing his job was just the beginning of a spiral of life sucker punches. After a few months of getting rejected by literally every place he would apply, having let down after let down, I ended up in the hospital with a placental abruption at 27 weeks pregnant with our second son. Life was definitely not looking so good. I could go on to talk all about the 12 day terrifying hospital stay, the extremely painful and traumatic birth that almost killed both of us, followed by the 7 week NICU stay, with my two year old and unemployed husband at home, or the five month preemie quarantine, the endless illnesses and doctor visits, the marriage issues, the eight months of intense postpartum depression and anxiety, and so much more….but I think you get the point. When it rains, it pours. And suddenly, we find ourselves waking up to a life that looks more like a train wreck than anything we had planned or imagined.
If this is you, friend, how I feel for you. Your circumstances might look entirely different than my wreckage, but it doesn’t change that each new blow is still more painful than the first. It doesn’t change that sick, defeated feeling that greets you every morning when you wake up. It doesn’t change that desperation inside of you to just catch a break, or that longing to know if things will ever get better.
If this is you, friend than this is what I want you know:
You are not defeated.
You might feel like you are defeated. You might think the enemy has won the battle for your life, but here’s a little secret, he doesn’t have that power over you. Oh yes, he can wound you, and he can bully you, and he can do everything in his power to convince you that he has crushed you, but that’s it.
Because of Jesus, you have access to an endless supply of strength to get back up again. So hate to break it to you, but if you stay beaten down, that’s on you, because YOURS IS THE VICTORY. Let me say that again, in case you didn’t get it the first time. YOURS IS THE VICTORY. I had to use all caps because let’s face it, when we are beaten down, we aren’t really thinking clearly. And when all we’ve known for so long is how we keep getting knocked down every time we try to stand up, it’s hard to believe that victory is a part of our future. But it is. Not because of any strength you have. No, we have already established that you don’t have even an ounce left to give. But because in Christ, every battle that we are fighting has already been won at the Cross.
One of my all-time favorite passages of Scripture says,
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 Corinthians 7-12
How these words have given life to me, when all I’ve wanted to do is give up!
Do you know what this verse means? It means that whether you are going through a seemingly endless series of unfortunate events, or you are enduring the most painful, horrific trial you have ever experienced, nothing has the power to destroy you. On this side of heaven, the ache may always be there, but we have the hope in knowing that this life isn’t all there is! Even in death, the last place we would ever think there could be any hope, there is still the promise of life. Because we serve a God who has victory even over death. And because of that victory, every circumstance, every battle lost, can be redeemed into something good.
So here you are now. You are laying down there on the mat. You just received another blow that you are just sure was enough to crush you for good. You don’t have the strength to keep fighting. You don’t even have the strength to keep living.
Let Him live through you.
You want to wallow. You want to grieve. You want to nurse your wounds because you deserve to do so.
Get up off your mat.
It’s ok if there are still tears. There may still be suffering. But there is no room for self-pity in the victor’s seat. You have been given the promise of second chances that never run out! To stay on your mat would be to throw away the chance to live again! And are you really that kind of person? Do you really want to be someone that just gives up? I don’t think so. You were created for more. With His strength in you, you can do this.
The verse continues,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
An eternal glory. That’s what’s in store for us! Not defeat.
So don’t ever forget:
Our days are never so dark that they are without hope, and our circumstances are never so broken that they cannot be redeemed.
You can get back up again, friend. And don’t you ever give up doing so. Yours is the victory.
*This post is part 2 in a series entitled, 31 Letters of Hope for the Suffering. To read the rest of the posts in this series, click here.