Mike Tyson once famously said, "Everyone has a plan until the get punched in the mouth." Now, he also got a face tattoo, so he might not be a go to source for motivational quotes.
But the premise holds. You approach your life with a plan. With who you are or who you want to be. Life punches you in the face and you see who you really are. You might find out that you aren't as great as you hoped. But at least in that moment you can see yourself with clarity and honesty. And there lies the opportunity for growth.
And everyone gets punched in the face from time to time. Jesus wrapped up His Sermon on the Mount making that pretty clear. (Ok, I jumped a few chapters ahead, but I'll go back and write on the parts I skipped.) Look at how He closes this sermon:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The Christian life is not about the avoidance of pain. Just look at the life of Jesus and that becomes pretty clear. Jesus assumes that the storms are going to come. But the Christian life is about enduring the storms and enjoying life in spite of them. Being resilient and still full of grace. A few chapters earlier Jesus literally says "You're going to get punched in the face." (turn the other cheek.) As Jesus closes, He tells the crowd, "If you take what I've just said and live it out in your life, you are going to be able to endure the storms that come." And what did He just tell us to do?
Desire good. Be good. Do good. Be a peacemaker. Be merciful. Be humble. Don't hold on to your anger. Honor your commitments. Don't retaliate. Love everyone. Be generous. Don't get wrapped up in what other people think about you. Figure out what God's desires and expectations are and make them your own. Then live up to those expectations. When you don't, own it, explore it, but forgive yourself because you've been forgiven. Forgive others. Forgive others. Forgive others. Pray with honesty and urgency. Don't be self-righteous. Be righteous. Forgive others. Be generous. Don't hoard. Don't worry so much. Work on your own issues before worrying about other people's. Treat people like you hope they'd treat you. Trust God. Have a group of friends that get it and want to commit to living this way together.
Is there any wonder that such a faith is adaptable to any context and point in history? This is the type of faith that can take a punch. This is a life of resilience and abundance. There is no avoiding the storms, so use them as an opportunity to put your character to the test. It is not enough to know these things (or as Jesus says, hear these things.) This is who you must be and what you must do.
Solomon wrote, "Just as water reflects your face, your heart reflects your character." James wrote, "It's not enough to be hearers of the Word, we must also be doers of the Word." In similar fashion, Marcus Aurelius said, "Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
We often use the word 'integrity' to describe someone who practices what they preach. It's a term that's also used to describe how durable and structurally sound a ship is when the water pressure ramps up around it. That's a great metaphor for a life of character. Similar to the house that can endure a storm, or a ship that can handle the pressure- we should build our character in such a way to be prepared for the things that life may bring.