Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Rumble in the Jungle

When Muhammad Ali was scheduled to fight George Foreman in October of 1974, the fight was coined the Rumble in the Jungle because it took place in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of Congo). 

Sidebar: this fight was almost 50 years ago. I remember my Dad watching this fight; he was a huge Ali fan.

Ali was the underdog as he was recovering from a series of legal challenges and was not allowed to box simply because of his anti-war stance (BTW, Ali was right, the government was wrong). Muhammad Ali was also a Black man trying to make his way in this world, and boxing was his means of doing so.

George Foreman was well built, solid, and muscular and, by the looks of it, would beat Ali to a pulp, on paper that is. 

But Ali had a strong belief in his capabilities, which might have been his secret weapon. That and the new thing he did on his way to defeating George Foreman - the rope a dope. This is a boxing tactic of pretending to be trapped against the ropes, goading an opponent to throw tiring ineffective punches; it appears passive while preparing for the next move. 

Somehow Ali realized that if George got tired, he wouldn't win. So Ali absorbed the blows from George, protecting his face and arms while leaning strongly against the ropes.  During the fight, Ali was halfway over the ropes, but the ropes kept him on his feet. To the untrained eye, Ali was losing because he took a lot of blows for seven rounds, but the ropes held him up.

And then, in the eighth round, both fighters came out ready to go at it again. Ali threw a punch and saw that his opponent could not respond. So he kept going until he knocked him down. George Foreman, 220 lbs, lost to Muhammad Ali, 216 lbs, by a knockout at 2:58 in round 8 of 15.

Sometimes life feels like a rumble in the jungle. We are pummeled with blows on every side while trying to protect our brains and our heart. But we keep fighting and leaning on the Rope of Life. In Christ, we remember who we are, which might be our strongest weapon. We are beaten but not defeated; that rope is stronger than we know, and He won't let us fall. He's there holding us up. And then we're in the eighth round, a little unsteady on our feet, but knowing we have the training, belief, and the strength to finally knock out our opponent. This time as you punch, your opponent falls.

We don't know how long our fights will last but thank God we can lean on the Rope for sustenance as we fight our battles. Psalms 18 is a prayer for deliverance; pray it the next time you're going through your rumble in the jungle.

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. They confronted me on the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. (Psalms 18:1,2, 18 CSB) 

Prayer - Dear God, I'm grateful that you are my strength and my deliverance. Sometimes life has us up against the ropes, and we're pummeled by relationships turned sour, jobs that disappear, health ailments that knock the wind out of our sails. These seem like big punches, but they are many more that we each deal with at any given time. But God, you are my strength, rock, fortress, and deliverer. Even as you're supporting us, you delight in rescuing us (Psalm 18:19). Lord, help us to draw near and appreciate your presence at all times so that when we're fighting, we can have an assurance that you are right there with us. Lord, I know I'm stronger and can defeat whatever is thrown my way with you. I may have to go eight rounds, but I'll come out victorious. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

How do you stay strong during battle? Do you rope a dope?


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  1. Great analogy. I am familiar with this historic fight, but wasn't aware of the terms, "rumble in the jungle" and "the rope a dope." The prayer from Psalm 18 makes all the difference when life feels the same.

  2. Oh, boy, what a wonderful post! I love Psalm 18, but I've never thought about it quite this way--a wonderful analogy you've created for us!

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I'm featuring you this week!


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