Day 4: Can I be grateful for difficult times? - 6 November 2019

Benescke Janse van Rensburg

One of the inspirational stories of the Springbok players that caught my attention was the story of wing, Makazole Mapimpi.

Five years ago, Mapimpi was a 24-year-old young man from Tsholomnqa in the Eastern Cape. Someone with a big dream to play for the Springboks, but to whom it felt impossible. He never played Cravenweek or SA school rugby. The closest he could come to fulfilling his dream, was to play Sunday League and later for Border.

With hard work and perseverance, Mapimpi's life began to change in 2017 when the Southern Kings offered him his first professional contract. In June 2018, Mapimpi joined the Springbok team. Back line coach Mzwandile Stick worked hard to get Mapimpi ready to catch the high balls. This past Saturday, Mapimpi became South Africa's first tri-scorer in a Rugby World Cup final.

Throughout his upbringing, Mapimpi had to endure many hardships. His mother, Eunice, owned her own sewing business before she died in a car accident. His sister, Zukiswa, was a professional nurse before dying from a brain disease. And Mapimpi's brother, Zolani, lost his leg after being electrocuted when stealing electric cables. He later died due to his injuries.

When you hear the story, it sounds like an absolute tragedy. However, listen to Mapimpi's perspective on all these bad things: “If my mother and sister were still alive, I probably wouldn't have been in Japan. Both were opposed to playing rugby. They felt that I should rather get an education or a job. Obviously, I'm not saying it's a good thing they're not here. But their absence has toughened me up to be here and left me feeling like my presence here is God's plan." Today, Mapimpi is a role model for a large number of rural children to continue believing in their dreams.

It is easy to question God during difficult seasons in our lives. I mean, can anything good come out of a divorce, a retrenchment at work, the death of a loved one, financial loss or an illness? In Isaiah 55: 8-9, God Himself speaks: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Also in Romans 8:28, we read: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

May we begin to thank God for difficult seasons. Where we only see a small part of the story, God sees the bigger picture. He knows the future and promises to never allow anything that we would not be able to handle. Let us rather thank Him today for His ability to work everything for the good of those who love him. God bless.

Father God, thank you for holding my future in Your hands. Please help me not to become discouraged in difficult times, but rather to choose to keep my eyes on You. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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