Been Punched and Knocked Down?
Have we lost a loved one? A job? Kid(s) gone astray? Falsely accused and maligned? Have we suffered some financial setback? Truly victimized? Have we failed? Rejected by a mate? Health gone south? Dealing with mental health issues? Are we weary, beaten up, and sense defeat? Are we tempted to feel sorry for ourselves? Do we hear some inner voice whispering, "woe is me". Invited to a "pity party" of one? Considering throwing in the towel? Any "fight" left? According to 12 year heavyweight champion, Joe Louis, "No one takes a punch like James Braddock". Indeed, in the mid to late 1920s, Braddock amassed an impressive 44-2-2 (.938) record including 21 knockouts, earning him the right to fight heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran in 1928. Braddock's narrow 15 round loss left Braddock deeply depressed, his powerful right punching hand severely fractured in multiple places. His dismal post fractured right hand, 11-20-2 (.364) record, left his family destitute in the midst of the Great Depression. Penniless, he found a job as a longshoreman in New York City - work, which would force him to use his weaker left hand in lieu of his battered right. In 1934, Braddock was offered a meager purse as punching fodder for esteemed fighter, Jimmie "Corn" Griffin. In a major upset, he knocked Griffin out in the third round. He went on to defeat future lightweight champion, John Henry Lewis and then heavyweight contender, Art Lasky on 22 Mar 1935 earning the right to battle Max Baer for the heavyweight championship of the world. A 10-1 underdog, Braddock shocked the professional sports community by defeating Baer in a unanimous decision after 15 rounds. Inspirational for the poor working class of the Depression years, a reporter dubbed boxing comeback sensation, Jimmy Braddock... the "Cinderella Man". Punched and knocked down? Consider the converted persecutor of first century Christians, the apostle Paul. King Jesus said of him, "for I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake". Indeed, Paul paid dearly for introducing the Greatest News Ever to the first century Gentile world - "from the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches..." Yes truly, the great Apostle punched, and was punched...often and hard, but... ...no one ever took a punch like King Jesus! "...all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death". "and when they had bound Him". "and while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing". "but the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus". "they all cried to him (Pilate), 'let Him be crucified!'". "when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified". "they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him". "when they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed their knees before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'" "then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: 'they divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots'". "and those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, 'You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!'" "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him" "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" "and Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit". No one ever took a punch like King Jesus. The eternal Heavyweight Champion of the world, He was criminalized, pulverized, brutalized, and crucified for us. Fight to the end, O dear Sinless Redeemer and Savior of men, for the weight of our eternal prosperity is upon You! "It is finished!" - King Jesus He fought and won. Sin, condemnation, and death defeated at Calvary! No one ever took a punch like King Jesus. Up against the ropes? Sucker punched? Down for the count? Has the battle been long and hard? Tempted to wallow in self pity/throw in the towel? We're in a fight too. Can we take a punch, or two, or more? What keeps us from allowing eternity's Heavyweight Champion to inspire us?... ..."For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls"