I have this habit of watching the same movies over and over. I do this with music, too. I just love my 90s R&B playlist on repeat. There’s something about routine and sameness that’s a comfort. Even though same seasons stretched over decades, have, at times, threatened my sanity, some things are nice to experience over and over again. Like an old movie that inspires flashbacks of time with loved ones. Or vintage songs that remind you of your first love.
At least, when it was good.
One movie I’ve watched a million and one times is Cinderella Man. Are you familiar?
It’s the story of a famous throwback boxer named James Braddock who had one of the greatest comebacks in history. In all honesty, if it weren’t for this movie, I wouldn’t have a clue who this man was. But that’s the beauty of storytelling. Whether it’s in a book or on a movie screen, you get to visit a world very different from your own.
James Braddock was a heavy-weight champion but got knocked out by The Great Depression along with most of America. His career teetered into poverty, bringing unprecedented hardships and setbacks upon the breaking of his hand. With limited options, he began doing hard labor, even with a broken hand! His boxing career over, he suddenly gets an opportunity to re-enter the ring as a one-time deal for much-needed funds. He does, and that win is the beginning of his comeback.
The thing that gets me every time I watch this movie is the scene where reporters are hounding Braddock in an interview before he faces this mega boxer, Baer. Baer has already killed two men in the ring and the stakes are high. The question isn’t just, “Will Braddock win this fight?” It’s, “Will he survive it?”
One of the reporters asks Braddock what’s different now that he’s back in the ring. How has he been able to improve so much and catapult back to the top?
Braddock responds, “Now I know what I’m fighting for.” The reporter then asks, “What’s that?” Braddock says, “Milk.”
I get chills every time. Before poverty, Braddock was a great athlete. He was a champion. But after, his motivation for winning skyrocketed. His family’s survival stood on the shoulders of his victory. The experience of financial loss taught him a valuable lesson: losing was not an option.
Have you been in a space like that before? The stakes are high, and people are depending on you. Your enemy is grinning in your face, taunting you that you will lose, but everything in you is screaming that you have no other choice but to win.
I can think of a few situations personally, where I resonate with that. I can think of many around me who can as well.
When Braddock enters the ring to fight Baer, that one act is stooped in bravery. His foe is a proven killer. His opponent has no ethics, character, or morals, as shown when he threatens to kill Braddock in front of his wife. This man is not a sportsman. This man is a murderer.
The build-up in the movie ensues when Braddock holds his own. He is going toe-to-toe with this skillful fighter, but then there’s a turn of events. Braddock is taking hit after hit. And then, finally, the climax. His face reels backward after a whopping punch from Baer. There’s no other place for Braddock to go but down. He is face flat on the ground. But after moments of uncertainty and the flashbacks of his bout with poverty race across his mind’s eye, he is back on his feet.
He smiles. He is ready.
Braddock has, no doubt, taken Baer’s best shot. This killer. This murderer. This low-life human being gave him all he had, and Braddock stood back up! Other men died, but he endured.
Have you been there? Have you taken your enemy’s best shot, and because of all that you have been through, all that has tried to take you out, all that has tried to gut you, bury you, extinguish you, you were still standing?
The thing is, when we go through hard things, they are building muscles of resiliency. They are toughening us up so when our enemy brings his heat, instead of us getting knocked out, we rise up, swinging and victorious.
Recently, I’ve been able to see victory. The enemy used others to spew lies and slander me. They tried to deceive and trick me. They accused and lied on me. It hurt. But God used it to teach me a few things. One is the need for a greater level of discernment. Another is how to respond. I responded in a proclamation of justice and truth, and do you know what? It worked. I received my just do and was finally compensated financially. Sadly, the souls who were used to attack me are blinded by their own egos and refuse to take ownership of wrongdoing. They lashed out even after I received what I was owed. But God told me the enemy was just trying to distract me from my victory. I had already won.
Don’t be distracted by the enemy, my friend. Don’t let your eyes deceive you. When you are His, you are always going to win.
And better yet, you will be able to take their best shot and still stand.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
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