On August 26th the world waited with great anticipation for what would go down in history as the “The biggest fight in combat sport.” The reigning world champ of professional boxing would stand toe-to-toe with the reigning world champ of MMA. Both men have proven to be the best in their style of combat, but only one could walk out a winner. On paper, McGregor (the division two mixed martial art champion) seemed to have the upper hand over his opponent – the undefeated eleven-time professional boxer Floyd Mayweather. McGregor was taller, heavier, and had a longer arm reach than that of Mayweather; he was also younger. However, McGregor was unfamiliar with the form, style, and execution of professional boxing.
I, along with so many others across the world, watched on television a fight that had people torn as to who would finish this fight as the champion. As I became fixated on the fight I noticed some intriguing details that were highlighting spiritual truths that we could all gain insight from. Both of these men were unmatched in their arena of combat; however, one chose to step into a foreign arena to take on his challenger. One on paper seemed bigger and stronger and was definitely louder in his pre-match hype, while the other in stature was smaller his silence in the face of his vocal adversary portrayed a confidence that would speak for itself.
As the bell sounded for the beginning round it appeared that McGregor was the fighter who showed up to win. For the first three or four rounds McGregor seemed to be the better fighter as he took advantage of every opportunity to land blows on Mayweather. Mayweather in those initial rounds seemed elusive and less aggressive in pursuit of his challenger, but starting in the fifth round it became obvious that McGregor was beginning to tire. For the next four rounds McGregor was taking blows from Mayweather that by the tenth round would leave him debilitated and would result in a technical knock-out. In the end, what it boiled down to was that Mayweather was better conditioned to outlast McGregor and had studied his opponent so as to be the smarter fighter.
Paul wrote in 2Corinthians 2:11, “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Satan is a devious and cunning adversary. He likes to attack strong up front to intimidate us or even provoke us to a retreat from faith and hope. Just as Mayweather knew that McGregor had a limit in stamina of only 25 minutes and let him tire himself out by a fast and hard start, so too must we understand that our adversary has a short endurance level and looks to a fast and strong start against us. James wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4).
Not everything is the enemy. Sometimes God takes us along a path that gives trouble the opportunity to test us so that we are better conditioned when we are taken to task by the spiritual forces that work against us. Trouble will test our faith which means that it has the potential for bringing us to a place where we question God’s promises and goodness towards us. Our adversary will question the identity and purpose that our faith has established. Therefore, God will test our faith because He knows the enemy will question our identity and purpose, and for us to stand against our enemy our faith must be able to withstand his challenge. Correct conditioning is critical to creating a winning fighter. Be encouraged if you feel that you are undergoing the conditioning of trouble because God is shaping you into a winner. Let the promises of God’s word and the testimonies of His goodness in times past work in us a grace to endure so that endurance is increased and we are conditioned to stand against our adversary. If we allow this process into our lives when we face the spiritual fight then we will be able to take blows that do not compromise the virtues of faith and will enable us to outlast our opponent in a battle he lost before it began.