Hard Pressed

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

When I lived in Mississippi as a boy, every year in a nearby town a contest was held to find “the toughest guy”. In a makeshift boxing arena set up by a team of traveling professional boxers, the locals would fight one another in elimination rounds for the chance on the final night to duke it out with one of the professionals. At the end of three consecutive nights, the local left standing would fight for prize money and the title. I wasn’t old enough to enter; but if I were, I knew facing my mama when I got home would be worse than anybody they put in that ring with me.

One year a big ole boy named Rodney Chapman had beaten every fighter put in the ring with him. He was one of the local favorites and everyone wanted him to defeat the professional fighter on the last night. Rodney had a punch like Sugar Ray but was the size of Mohammed Ali. On the final night it was standing room only. We couldn’t wait to see who Rodney would be facing. To our surprise a guy twice his size entered the ring.  The room fell silent and the cigar smoke hung in the air like a thick cover of dust. My friend’s dad had taken his son and me to watch the fight. We were close enough to feel the moisture from the overheated men in the ring. And the excitement and anxiety of the audience made my heart pound. I really wanted Rodney to win. His challenger’s name was Goliath.

Sometimes in life we are hard pressed on all sides. Paul knew what it was like when he wrote the scripture in Corinthians. There are times when we can catch it from all sides: trouble, heartache, pain, sickness, worry. We might feel the pressure mounting from all directions; but, we will never be hemmed in or crushed.

Sometimes we do not know which way to turn. Nothing makes sense and there seems no real answer. Confusion surrounds us and no one can help. The best part is, although we don’t know what to do, God does. We may not be able to see the big picture of the plan, but God can.

Sometimes we are struck down – that “coming out of nowhere” blow which knocks us to our knees. The tornadoes of life which wipe us out. Leave us wondering where it all came from and where we go from here.

Rodney went 10 rounds with Goliath. Time after time, he hit the ground, but somehow found his feet before the final count down. Time after time, Rodney seemed boxed into a corner with no way out. His face bloodied from the fight, his breath shallow, sweat pouring from his body; and yet, he hadn’t been knocked out.

Finally, in the last round of the fight, Rodney caught Goliath with a left hook in just the right spot on the chin to knock that big guy to the ground. The crowd erupted. As he turned to greet the cheers with clenched fists of victory, I noticed a tatoo on the back of his neck, 2 Corinthians 4:8&9.

I wish God promised us an easy life, a life filled with more wins than losses; but He doesn’t. On the contrary, God says we will be surrounded by troubles but it will not overcome us. While we may be confused, we will not lose heart. And there will be times we are knocked down but never out.


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