Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. -Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)
Remember the movie Rocky III? In it, the hero and defending champion, Rocky Balboa, faces an impossible opponent, Clubber Lang, who is quickly rising in the professional boxing ranks.
Rocky, however, has been resting on his laurels after defeating Apollo Creed, the previous world champion. Fight night finally arrives, and Clubber Lang wipes the floor with Rocky, taunting him the whole time.
Rocky has to regroup and refocus. We often have to do the same when we start resting on our laurels, and the world takes us down a few notches…or to the floor.
After much training, Rocky is in leaner and meaner form than ever before. This time, Rocky uses discernment, and does not try to match up with Clubber blow for blow. Instead, he deftly avoids most of Clubber’s brutal attacks…and then Clubber is too worn out to endure as Rocky launches his counterattack. And this time, Clubber is on the floor, and down for the count.
For us to outlast this world, we need to stay focused on God, not on what we see in front of us. We need to regroup constantly in His Word, in fellowship, and in prayer. We need to put on His armor. And finally, we need to face our trials with godly suffering, where He carries us, not ungodly suffering, where we get needlessly and unproductively pummeled to a pulp.
With God’s help, we can righteously endure all trials and seasons, bear fruit, and outlast to His glory.