Never thought I’d find myself choking back cheers of joy watching a 17 year old girl box her way to Olympic Gold. But that’s what happened last night as I watched Claressa Shields beat an opponent almost twice her age.
Wasn’t raised to anticipate celebrating a woman boxer even though I was raised to read a Bible that told the stories of women named Jael, and Deborah who did in battle what men of their generation didn’t do.
In Judges 4 we read how these two women were used by the God of Israel to defeat the Canaanites in one of the darkest moments of Jewish history. Then in chapter 5 we find Deborah’s song celebrating the way the Lord of the heavens had not only honored her as she led the men of Israel in battle, but also the gentile by the name of Jael who by her own hand killed a Canaanite king.
Today, Claressa Shields’ hometown of Flint, Michigan also needed a lift. Having fallen on hard times, this once affluent automotive city has become known for its unemployment, decaying neighborhoods, and crime. There haven’t been many stories of hope coming out of Flint lately—until Claressa climbed into the ring of the London Olympics.
At the end of 4 two minute rounds she had made history and brought joy (maybe a ray of hope) to a city that seemed down for the count.
On a rainy morning, in a coffee shop, ninety miles from the celebrating city, I’m trying to sort out my emotions, as well as much of a lifetime of thinking that there are some things– like getting into a boxing ring– that men alone are supposed to do.
And still smiling with Claressa, and thinking about how the Lord used Deborah and Jael to do a “man’s work”.