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“Comeback Kid!” Romans 4:19-25 Key verse(s) 25:“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Combacks are the things of movies and dreams! Few things cause more instant satisfaction than a comeback. People who overpower a disability or disease–teams that come from behind and triumph–a boxer down in fourteen rounds that pulls a fifteenth round knockout–the politician behind in the polls who pulls out a victory. All of these scenarios represent comebacks that inspire and give us hope that someday we too might overcome a looming obstacle in our own lives. But above these feats there has always been a type of comeback that has impressed me even more than these–the verbal comeback.

Getting behind in a conversation, buried in someone else’s logic and cool reasoning is a maddening thing. You go into the situation confident and come out battered, embarrassed and bested. Although it is a humbling experience, it is also a maddening one to most of us. We long for just that right word, the perfect thought, to pull into the argument and then, when given the opportunity to insert it, we fail because “we just didn’t think of it at the time.” Emotions high, reason, judgement, and thought are pushed aside for the moment. There simply isn’t room when our emotions boil over. We stutter, back-track, even become belligerent in our hopelessness. Then, when all is finished, our logic foiled and the foe strutting away in victory, we think of what we should have said; the comeback that would have fit so perfectly and won the day. Can there be anything more maddening than this?

I have long admired the man who could stay cool and collected when faced with an argument that hit him squarely in the jaw; the type of man who just wouldn’t blink when the situation called for blinking. I remember hearing the story of a young man who had aspirations of become the ambassador to China under President Woodrow Wilson. He was young for the job and had not served in such a high post before. He wrote letter after letter to Wilson describing his qualifications and promoting his abilities. Finally Wilson enlisted his Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, for assistance. He asked Bryan to set up an interview with the young man and put “the situation in order.” Bryan set up the interview at the state department and when the young man arrived, he was ushered to Bryan’s austere yet impressively large office. Not known for his shyness or lack of preparation, Bryan greeted the young man and immediately commenced a one-sided dialogue describing the “utter importance” of the office, interjecting how it was perhaps foolish to take on such a burden without the proper credentials and background. The young man seemed to listen intently to each word Bryan spoke. He took notes throughout and then, when it seemed that the one-sided argument was working, the young man looked Bryan squarely in the eyes and indicated that he had was yet convinced the job was just right for him. Bordering on frustration but still in control, Bryan changed his tactic to a more practical bent. He pushed back his chair, smiled and then leaned forward. “You know young man, in order to receive this appointment and succeed in the position there is one thing that “we” don’t have. “‘We’ don’t speak Chinese, do we?” Unperturbed, the young man smiled and moved his face closer to Bryan and whispered. “I don’t know. Try me. Ask me something in Chinese!”

What a great comeback! Although the young man did not get the job he certainly earned Bryan’s admiration. He went on to serve admirably in the State Department under Bryan. His “comeback” was perfectly conceived and exquisitely timed. But, of all the “Rocky’s”...

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