One of my favorite Bible verses is the apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 2:14 that God “always leads us in triumph in Christ.” That’s a beautiful promise, but lately I’ve been rethinking what it means to live a triumphant life.
Some preachers act as if the Christian life is meant to be a journey from one mountain top to another, with no valleys in-between. They act as if we can have victory without any battles along the way.
However, that’s certainly not what Paul is saying here. Several chapters later, he provides a long list of the severe hardships he had faced in his service to the Lord. Yes, God had met all of his needs, but Paul’s “abundant life” also included abundant trials. Frequent beatings…imprisonment…shipwreck…robbery…false accusations…sleeplessness…inclement weather, betrayal – and other difficulties too numerous to mention (2 Corinthians 11:23-30).
So, what does the triumphant Christian life really look like? I’m beginning to think it looks a lot like famed boxer Rocky Balboa after one of his fights. He was knocked to the mat numerous times during each contest, but he never stayed there. And although his face and body were pummeled almost beyond recognition, Rocky was able to loudly proclaim his victory at the end of the story.
Perhaps you think this illustration is much too bloody, and certainly an unappealing illustration of the victory we can have in Christ. Maybe so. But the illustration fits more accurately than the depictions of Jesus and His apostles with rosy cheeks, halos, and garments that looked like they were dry cleaned every day.
In fact, in Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” the beaten and crucified Jesus looks a lot like Rocky Balboa. How ironic that while the cross seemed like His ultimate defeat, it turned out to be His ultimate victory. He got knocked down, but He got up again.
My friend, if you feel like you’ve been pummeled by life’s circumstances, remember Rocky Balboa – and Jesus. Even if you feel bloody and broken today, you’re probably a lot more victorious than you realize.
Your dreams may seem dead at the moment. But if you don’t give up, I’m betting that your resurrection is right around the corner.
Really enjoyed this reminder, Jim! The winners are the ones who endure to the finish. Your’re truly a winner my friend. “He who has begun a great work (in us) will see it through to completion.” Phil 1:6
Jim, this speaks to me right now on so many levels. After the initial “Rocky” movie, there were multiple movies after the original. And then there were spin offs. We are in the chapter of taking our burdens to the cross and feeling bloodied and beaten. As you so eloquently stated, “resurrection is right around the corner.”
Most days lately I have felt pummeled. Having undergone complete right knee replacement surgery I experience relentless pain. This pain and and other challenges are the door into the Lord’s comforting presence and strength. Thanks for your excellent and inspirational writing!
Excellent read, Jim! I’m sorry you’ve been going through so much, and have been praying for you! Sometimes these things sharpen us, right?! Healing and peace to you!