“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” — Jeremiah 29:11
Among the millions of Jews affected by the horrors of the Holocaust during World War II was a certain Jewish man from Poland, who got put on a train along with hundreds of others headed for the concentration camps. As the train journeyed along, something crazy suddenly happened: The coupling that connected two of the train’s cars somehow broke. The rest of the train kept on going, but the other car stayed behind.
Those trapped inside, including this Polish man, were able to escape and run for their lives. He was among those that made it without being caught. He eventually fled Europe along with this family and settled in Argentina — a safe haven for other Jews who were escaping the Holocaust. He and his family spoke Yiddish and not a word of Spanish, but they rebuilt their lives there in a new place. His descendants still reside there today. The reason I share this miraculous story in a sports devotional: That man’s great-grandson is the world’s ninth-ranked pro tennis player, Diego Schwartzman.
Schwartzman has openly spoken about his ancestry and the pride he has in how his relatives overcame so many challenges. That pride has inspired him in his playing over the years and allowed him perspective during his career. He has become known as one of the toughest opponents on a tennis court, always fighting down to the very last point. He has said that knowing the background of his family and what they went through makes it easy to deal with pressure and adversity in the game of tennis.
He is aware of the fact that the survival of his maternal great-grandfather is nothing other than a miracle. That box car separating from the rest of the train was a defining moment in the history of his family because, in all likelihood, Diego would not be here otherwise, and the world would never have been blessed with his incredible talent.
While the rest of us might not have such a dramatic story, we all can look back on our lives and notice defining moments of our own. Experiences that forever altered the future of what we did, where we went, and who we became. They could be pleasant moments, or they could also be difficult ones. But they are specific encounters or series of events that, had they gone differently, we know without a doubt our lives would never have turned out they way they have.
It’s important to recount and reflect on your history with God. Remember those defining moments in which His hand was clearly intervening and working on your behalf. Perhaps it was not readily obvious in the moment but, in time, became a point of thankfulness regarding His plan for your life.
Sometimes it may feel as though that plan is hard and painful, as if it doesn’t fit in with anything like what you wanted or expected. But because it is His plan nonetheless, there is reason to trust Him.
— Katherine Singer
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