My father introduced me to the Sweet Science—boxing. Not sure I was ever a big fan but I do remember some of the epic matches that happened in my childhood. I also remember some of the terms I learned, like “apron” (has to do with part of the ring), “shoe shine” (in reference to the speed of a boxer), “cornerman” (the guy who meets you in the corner after a round, helps you recover from exertion, cleans up your wounds, and gives you a pep talk and some coaching for the next round), and “Glass Jaw” which means that a boxer is fragile, or that he can’t take a hit very well.
While my dad grew up in the era of Mohammad Ali and Joe Frasier, two of the biggest names in boxing history, I grew up in the era of Mike Tyson, one of the hardest punchers ever. Tyson, known as “Iron Mike,” was famous for his devastating punches and first round knock outs. While Ali was truly an artist in the ring, Mike was more like a bull in a china shop.
The quality that made Ali, Frasier, and Tyson so amazing, was that on top of have quick hands, excellent foot work, and great punching power, they all had the ability to take a hit. At the peak of their individual careers they were all, in one sense, unbeatable because you couldn’t hit them enough to stop them. Their jaws were never described as glass…more like concrete!
Like these big boxers, life can throw a lot of punches at us. There are days where I get knocked around a little bit, where it feels like life itself is working against me! Have you ever had days like that? Days where life is throwing punches and you keep getting smacked?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the reality is that I just don’t want life to be hard. I think I, occasionally, have glass jaw syndrome, and when life lands a good uppercut on my chin I fall down, and truthfully, I just want to stay down. I don’t want to get back up!
But those bruisers in the Sweet Science understood that a glass jaw would never get them to the peak of their profession. The boxers that got knocked down but didn’t get back up are the boxers of which few of us have ever heard.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul writes, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (4:8-9). In other words, Paul and his companions didn’t have glass jaws!
How did Paul keep getting up when life smacked him around? The answer is found a few verses later: “That is why we never give up…for our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (4:16-18).
We develop toughness, not by avoiding or escaping life’s hard times, but by walking through them focused on who God is and what God is doing, not on how hard life is punching. When we turn our gaze to the eternal, we find a strength and hope that isn’t our’s–it’s God’s–and it can sustain us through anything! Paul’s toughness developed as he realized that God was using those hard times to create something better than Paul could create for himself.
Let’s work together to develop toughness in life; a toughness that can only be developed when we focus on God–who He is and what He is doing. If you’re going through something hard today, take some time to just write out the ways that you can see God working despite the heartache or hurt. Let your mind focus on those things and see if it helps you get back up today. And remember, life is hard and no one is living it perfectly. I’m grateful we have a God who loves us, forgives us, and strengthens us each and every day. We can always get back up when God is our cornerman!