Summary: God has not promised skies always blue Flower strewn pathways all our lives through God has not promised sun without rain. Joy without sorrow, peace without pain But God has promised strength for the day Rest from the labor, light for the way
Many times I have watched a boy going along the street kicking a tin can. The can would fly through the air, bounce on the pavement, scrape along the curb, and before very long it became a battered object of ill treatment. His battered can reminds me of life.
I. For life is filled with hard knocks
A. Much of the news in the daily paper involves tragedy for someone. Murder, fatal accidents, heart attacks, deaths from natural causes, are hard knocks. The paper tells of property loss by fire and storm. The classified ads plead for the return of lost bill folds, jewelry, valuable papers, and pets. These ads tell of hard knocks but few picture the anguish and grief back of them.
B. Trouble is real today. People groan under heavy burdens. Many people of the world have a life expectancy of only 30 years. Millions go to bed hungry. Many people grow what they eat and starve when the crops fail. Infant mortality is very high in some countries. Physical suffering causes many to cry in agony. Misunderstands, disappointments, and perplexities may be classified with the hard knocks trouble brings.
C. We are not very old before we learn that no one is exempt from hard knocks. A friend of mine has been in the hospital 22 times. His back was crushed in a steam shovel accident. The crippled children’s hospital in Elyria, Ohio, is filled with boys and girls of two years and older, who must lie in bed for months and years to come because of deformities of limbs or spine. Some are deformed because of malnutrition. Hard knocks so early in life, and we have all wondered
II. Why do hard knocks come?
A. There are many things that we cannot explain. During the march of dimes, we heard that polio is no respecter of persons. But why one person is struck down and another escapes is beyond the knowledge of medical science. Why Boston should have an epidemic of polio and San Francisco escape is hard to answer.
B. It is true that hard knocks may be a result of carelessness. God expects us to take care of our bodies. We invite a penalty when we violate certain health laws. We invite a penalty when we break civil and moral laws. Wrong choices always carry a penalty which must be paid sometime.
C. Hard knocks often come because of sin. NO one can sin and get away with it. A man of wisdom said in Proverbs 28:13, “He that coverth up his sins shall not prosper.” We might add he that covers up his sins is inviting some hard knocks, and is due for a rough time. Isaiah the prophet wrote Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that He will not hear.” When God does not hear, that is the hardest of all hard knocks. God will not hear as long as sin is tucked away in some secret part of the heart. Not to have God on your side, is a hard knock. Sin must be forsaken utterly. Nothing short of a broken heart over sin and unbelief, full confession and restitution will satisfy God. It must be as the Psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me.” God is no respecter of persons. Sin brings hard knocks.
D. Hard knocks may come to us through the faulty judgment of others, through another’s disregard of our rights, and the laws of our land. Or we may break a civil or moral law and cause someone else to suffer. Hard knocks will come and
III. What shall we do when they come?
A. Shall we just grin and bear it? Shall we rebel against God? Shall we withdraw into our shell and let the rest of the world go by? Or shall we follow David’s example? From shepherd boy to king, his life had been filled with hard knocks. He had learned early that human strength had a limit, but he had learned also that God is an ever present help in trouble and has no limit. When David saw and heard Goliath for the first time he wondered why no one had answered the giant’s challenge. He said to King Saul, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear shall deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” While David was king of Israel hard knocks followed him. His son tried to kill him. While a fugitive, David said, “When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Hard knocks battered David, but hard knocks could not battered down the Rock of refuge and the place of comfort. His hope was in God.