Open Your Bible
1 Peter 4:12-19, Isaiah 11:1-5, Matthew 5:3-12
These days, there’s a pair of boxing gloves resting on the passenger’s seat of my car, and it makes me entirely giddy. While I’m certain I’m also improving my self defense skills and I hope to intimidate all those around me at the sight of my gloves, that’s not why I have them at all. I recently joined a boxing gym with one of my coworkers. It’s something I never thought I’d do for a million reasons, and exactly why I love it so much.
You see, the past year I’ve battled opponents like chronic pain, fatigue, and depression, which wiped me out and put me on the sidelines for weeks-turned-months on end. I am still far from winning these matches, but I’m thankful that some of the very worst parts have lifted, leaving a little space for hopeful and fun activities like exercise—things I had missed immensely. So I guess you could say my jab-jab-cross-uppercut enthusiasm is fueled by gratefulness for my newfound health and the growing distance between me and long, sleepless nights. I am doing this for my former self who couldn’t.
Suffering can feel like a tough blow to the head or a punch right in the stomach, but Jesus has already fought for us and given us strength we could never muster for ourselves. And now, we suffer differently, for our former selves who couldn’t survive sin at all. Instead of backing down to pain, we rejoice when His glory is revealed, and even we “are ridiculed for the name of Christ, [we] are blessed” (1 Peter 4:13–14). We do not suffer in the same way others do because we know exactly how the battle ends.
One of the first things I learned in boxing was how to wrap my hands before putting them inside the gloves. Using a cloth bandage, I begin by wrapping my wrists, then criss-cross around my hand, covering each knuckle and protecting each finger. And because I do this, I know I’ll be safe, no matter how hard I hit the punching bag.
When we face hard times as children of God, we are given something to wrap around our hearts for protection: the truth of who He is. We cover our minds in Scripture, trusting that no matter what we face, we do not face it without our Father, who wears a belt of righteousness and a sash of faithfulness (Isaiah 11:5).
With these words, He makes sure all our doubts are answered and all our fears are covered by His love for us. So when we step into the ring of discomfort, we already know the outcome; we are called blessed by the Lord, our God. Thanks be to Him.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the humble,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
– Matthew 5:3–6