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Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Friday, May 21

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise.” — Micah 7:8

Roll With the Punches

They teach you in boxing to “roll with the punches,” noting that a boxer’s ability to absorb and deflect the force of an opponent’s blow is lessened by going with the punch instead of fighting it. I’ve been thinking lately about this being a powerful analogy when it comes to life.

We often are taught that challenges, change and seasons of pain are to be avoided and resisted at all costs. We think we are better off the more we can put off tough situations rather than actually walking through them — almost as if we think that part of being a good fighter is to brace ourselves for the blow and resist it head on, to return to our boxing analogy. 

But what if the better part of faith — the real place of growth — lies in learning how to move with the ups and downs? What if we’re actually meant to lean into the discomfort? 

Look at any notable example in history (sports or otherwise), and you’ll see a person who often faced a lot of adversity and hardship in order to achieve their personal victories. To get to the pinnacle of their goals or to accomplish the work they eventually became known for, they usually endured a lot of difficulty en route to their success. And usually they will be the first to admit that the hard times grew their character because they found the courage to press through the struggle. 

In life as well as athletic competition, you’re bound be to punched in the face from time to time. Perhaps it’s an unexpected injury, or maybe you get dropped from the team; perhaps you get passed over in favor of someone else; perhaps you have to uproot and move to another place and start over; perhaps you lose your job or your financial security; perhaps you even lose your support system or a valued relationship. Whatever the circumstance, we all deal with things that, in the moment, appear undeserved, unfair, unexpected and unreal. It hurts, and we reel from the blow we’ve just received. 

But, by the grace of God, we must find a way to absorb the blow. We must figure out how to take that punch and roll with it. We must remain in the fight and learn that, though temporarily knocked down, we are by no means out. The Apostle Paul referred to this when he spoke of the sufferings believers face in 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.”

The punches you face in life or in sports are unavoidable. You will receive them at some point. But how you handle those punches determines if you will be destroyed by them or shaped for the better by them. I choose to be shaped by them, and I hope you do too.  

— Katherine Singer

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