Surviving The Fight of Your Life Part 1

A CBS reporter sits down to interview Dewey Bozella, a 52 year old man who is about to make his professional boxing debut against a 30 year old professional boxer. But don't bet against Dewey Bozella yet. He's already won the fight of his life. His childhood in Brooklyn would have beaten most people down. He watched his father beat his mother to death and he lost two brothers to the streets. At 19, he was arrested and later convicted for the murder of a 92-year-old woman. He was sentenced to Sing Sing for a crime he maintained he did not commit. When Bozella was offered release if he would just confess his crime, he refused again and again. He told them he would rather die in prison than say he did something he didn’t do. So he found fulfillment in boxing.

The training and discipline brought order to the chaos. "It was my freedom," he said. "That was my escape from where I was at. It helped me realize that there's a better way of living life rather than walking around angry and frustrated at people. "So he fought to become prison champ, to earn a bachelor's and master's degree, and to convince the Innocence Project to take his case. Project lawyers, who work to overturn wrongful convictions, found evidence he was innocent. After 26 years, Dewey Bozella was released from prison. He was in the fight of his life and won! He later started a foundation to teach the discipline of boxing to troubled youth. But what he wanted most was to fight just one professional match. He went on to win that fight as well. 

I am thinking of a man who is fighting to save his marriage, but things don’t seem to be turning around. He is in the fight of his life! And there is a young man who is trying his best to get into school and move on in his life professionally, but obstacles keep getting in his way. He is in the fight of his life! There is a young woman who is trying to find her purpose in life and can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel and has fallen into depression. She is in the fight of her life! Or maybe you are struggling with an addiction and you can’t seem to get off that website, put down that bottle or get your eating habits under control. You are in the fight of your life! How do we deal with these battles we face everyday of our lives. How do we cope? How do we survive?

In the book of Genesis we find the story of someone who did what he thought he had to do to survive. His very name became a self-fulfilled prophecy throughout the course of his life. His name is Jacob, which means deceiver or supplanter. He cheats his brother out of his birthright, deceives his father to get his blessing and then in return he gets cheated and lied to by his uncle Laban in order to win his bride, Rachel. Finally, after many years he decides to go back to his home country where he knows he must inevitably face his messed up past and possibly be killed by his brother Esau. He tries everything humanly possible to fix his situation, but nothing seems to work. He even sends gifts to his brother only to find out that his brother is on his way to him with 400 men! Jacob, who is now filled with anxiety and desperate, divides up his camp into two in a panicked attempt to survive. What do you do when your past and fears come up against you? In Genesis 32, we will learn from Jacob’s experience three secrets to surviving the fight of your life. 

Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
— Genesis 32:9-12 NKJV

 At this point Jacob knew that the only way he was going to get out of this one was to pray. He had come to the end of human options and did what he should have done a long time ago. In this prayer of Jacob we discover that if your going to survive the fight of your life you have got to... 

Confess Your Fears While Claiming God’s Promises 

By the middle of 2008 I found myself unemployed in a down economy. Fear of failing professionally and not being able to provide gripped my heart. Maybe there are some husbands in reading this who understand what I am talking about. I would come home when Deedre wasn’t home and just fall on the ground crying out to God in tears. I would lie there pouring out my fear of failing and loosing our house. I would tell God about the mounting bills and the mortgage that was falling further behind. And in the midst of my pouring out my fears to God a scripture promise would pop into my head and I would tell Jesus, “You promised that You would never leave us nor forsake us.” “You said Jesus, that You would be with us to the very end of the age.” Then I would quote Jeremiah 29:11 and say, “God, You said You have a plan for my life, to give me a future and a hope!” “You also said in Romans 8:28, that all things work out for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.” I kept on confessing my fears and claiming God’s promises until He blessed me with a new job and a buyer for the house, which eventually sold. 

Jacob’s prayer to God is a beautiful illustration of expressing your fears and claiming divine promises. He starts off his prayer by recognizing God as the God of his fathers. This is the same God who gave Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob the promise of many descendants and the promised Messianic Seed. He reminds God that He is the one who said to go back to his own country and that He said He would deal well with him. Then he recounts his unworthiness of all that God has done for him. He left with only his staff and now he is returning with two companies of people. Now He is wealthy with wives, children and servants. In spite of Jacob’s shortcomings, God had indeed blessed him! And sometimes we need to just stop and look at how much God has already blessed us! We got to learn to count our blessings and give God some praise! 

Then Jacob begins to pour out his heart to God for deliverance from Essau. He says, “for I fear him, lest he attack me and the mother with the children.” Jacob doesn’t try to pretend like he doesn’t have any fears like some of us do. You see, if we don’t acknowledge our fears, face them head on and confess them to God, they grow in the secrecy of our worry filled minds and overwhelm us. There is a saying that says, “feed your faith and your doubts and fears will starve to death.” Lest he be consumed with his fear of Essau, Jacob begins to feed his faith by claiming God’s promises. Jacob says to God, “For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” Jacob says, “God, You said...” and that is exactly what God wants us to do! He loves to hear you tell Him what He promised you in His word. Tell Him, “God You said!” 

But friends, in order to tell God what He said you have to know what He said! I do not understand how one can be a follower of Jesus Christ and not read the Bible on a daily basis. That is a sure way to spiritually starve to death. Barry Black said recently, "Everyday you eat physical food, eat spiritual food." This is how the Holy Spirit brings to your memory the words of Jesus so you can hold on to them when you face trouble in your life.