Struck Down, But Not Destroyed
In the movie Creed, boxer Adonis Creed takes a brutal punch in the fight of his life, and gets knocked to the ground. He hits the floor hard. The people in his corner are shouting, “Get up! Get up!” His opponent is on the ropes celebrating, thinking it’s over.
But while Creed is out, his mind is scrolling through all he’s been through up until that point, and all the people who love and motivate him. Like a jolt, he’s up before the count of ten — and is back in the fight.
Creed’s boxing life may seem to bear little resemblance to our lives as believers. Though we encounter battles, we don’t train intensely for them, with dedicated professionals to put us through our paces and shore up our weaknesses. We don’t know the time, date, and location of our next bout, such that we can show up prepared. Our battles are spiritual, seemingly upending the comparison.
But as the apostle Paul showed, boxing (like running) provides a vivid metaphor for the Christian life (1 Corinthians 9:26).
You Will Get Hit
We often don’t see it coming. It could be a health crisis, loss of a loved one, an employment shake-up, betrayal, or some form of persecution. Or maybe it’s something we’re aware of, something we thought was mild or temporary, but it “hits” when it morphs from hill to mountain.
The question is not whether we will find ourselves in a battle, but when. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). Paul likewise says it’s part of our privilege as believers. “It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). We remember vividly the times we have been hit. Many of us are still recovering.
Moreover, we have an enemy who specializes in sucker punches. He schemes how he will execute, watching for opportune times, hitting when he thinks it will connect with force. Nothing touches us apart from the sovereign sanction of the Lord. The Lord uses it for his purposes and for our good. But there’s a reason he tells us to remain fully clothed in his armor. Forces are arrayed against us, shooting fiery arrows. There are times we will get hit.
You Will Go Down
Sometimes we are hit with such force that we are knocked down. Life takes a hard tilt, and the effect is tantamount to being thrown face down to the ground. The circumstance is devastating, the pain excruciating. Try as we might, in that moment it is difficult to grab hold of any semblance of joy or hope.
The apostle Paul wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). We rejoice that, because of Christ, we are not crushed, despairing, forsaken, or destroyed.
But the other words are true, as well. For the sake of Christ, we may find ourselves afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.
Peter drives home this reality as well when he says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). The ordeal is fiery, and it does come upon you. It packs a knockout punch.
The enemy’s goal is to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The Lord’s goal is to grow us in faith, trust, and endurance.
You Can Get Up
When we are hit hard and knocked to the ground, it feels as if our strength is gone. The bruises of hurt, heartache, and pain keep us pinned. As in Creed, the enemy celebrates, thinking it’s over. But the Lord is faithful. He has given us powerful truths to hold onto when we are down — truths that help us get up, again.
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ” (Romans 8:39). God himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us after we’ve suffered for a little while (1 Peter 5:10). Even this — being hit so hard that we are knocked to the ground — will work together for good (Romans 8:28).
We remember that Jesus was once down, crucified, and buried and, for a time, the enemy surely rejoiced. But Jesus rose on the third day, and the same power that raised him from the dead is at work in us who believe. We get up because we’ve been graciously given eternal life, and what we endure in this life cannot compare to the glory to come (2 Corinthians 4:17).
We never stand alone, toe-to-toe with the enemy, in our battles. Our God, mighty in power, fights for us. Shod in his armor, we stand firm. And even if we’re knocked down, the truth is that he is upholding us with his hand (Psalm 37:24).