“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” – Rocky Balboa. My wife and I went to see the movie Rocky Balboa on a date a few years ago, and that’s still one of my favorite lines from the film.

It’s been a week now since I injured my shoulder and got a diagnosis of bursitis. Only eleven days until the big race. According to my physician, today was the point of no return, either get a cortisone shot or stick with ice and therapy. Fish or cut bait, sink or swim, do or die, pick your tag line. I’ve said more than once that this injury is small in the scope of all the issues out there in the world. People face life and death, feast or famine, homelessness, unemployment, and the list goes on. Still it’s one of my issues for this moment and it has to be dealt with.

I prayed about what to do and others prayed for me. I wondered. Yes, I admit it, I worried some too. Finally I made a choice, and now I have to move forward with it. No shot for me. Will I be back to my old self by race day? Only God knows, really. I pray I will. Still, I know I can have success either way. Even in suffering we can find success.

God has a lot to say about trials and suffering. James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Paul said we can, “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” When those words were penned, followers of Christ were being persecuted for their beliefs, a type of suffering not many of us today have experienced.

Still, I believe that in the life of a believer (that is, a follower or Jesus), suffering of all types can have meaning – even physical suffering. A pastor friend often says, “God never wastes a hurt.”  I believe that.  God can even take those things in this broken world that someone meant for evil, and use them for good.

Rocky said this world is a “mean and nasty” place.  Certainly it can appear bleak at times.  Part of the hope for the believer is that there is more to this life.  Whether sunshine or storms, I think one thing still rings true. Success in this life will not always be determined by whether or not you can dodge a punch, or land one for that matter. Your measure of success may just be decided by what you do once you pick yourself up off the ground.