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April 7, 2011

The Fighter’s Comeback

Excerpt from Romans 5:1-11

“… suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

A boxing movie’s greatest accomplishment is to interest people with no interest in boxing . . . in boxing. And the movie “The Fighter,” tells the compelling true story of “Irish” Mickey Ward, whose surprise welterweight title was nothing compared to his struggles with his older brother, Dickie Eklund. 

The two brothers are a study in contrasts when it comes to their bodies, their physical endurance and their character. The younger Mickey works out on the punching bag with furious intensity and endurance, determined to improve himself, while his older brother parties with his friends, and abuses his once fit body with drugs and alcohol all day long.

A has-been and petty criminal, Dickie the older brother imagines himself training and mentoring his younger brother. He even convinces himself that the documentary camera crew following him around is filming his boxing comeback.

But later when the show comes on television, Dickie, now in prison, watches and realizes that it is a show about drug addiction and he is the star, but the star loser.  Suddenly, the former athlete sees himself as he really looks physically. After years of drug use, the ex-boxer is bone thin, out of shape, and missing teeth. And that’s his turnaround moment.

In the next scenes, Dickey begins a regimen of prison yard exercise, running, lifting weights and boxing. It is as if the former athlete knows that in order to have any healing inside, he has to work on the outside too. By the time he leaves prison, he knows he’s not ready for the professional ring, but he has a body that is drug-free and works again. You realize that the athlete might really have a comeback in his future after all, not as a boxer, but as a responsible adult who can follow through for the people he loves.

Because suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Talk about a comeback.

Prayer

Dear God, be with all those who suffer, all those who endure and all those who hope. In other words, please be with me. Amen.

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About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the author, with Martin Copenhaver, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

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The Stillspeaking Daily Devotional is a free service and is supported by your gifts to Our Church's Wider Mission. Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America,adapted. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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