[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Maretha Retief. When Maretha reached out to guest post for Devotional Diva, I didn’t know exactly what she had planned. I was so blown away by her submission and story! Thank you for sharing and spurring other women forward, Maretha!]
Have you fallen into circumstances you feel you don’t deserve or did not plan for? Have you ever been labeled by your circumstances or shortcomings and allowed it to limit you?
I know what it feels like.
My life has not played out the way I imagined it would. When I planned summers, life brought winters. When I was ready for a straight path, life gave me mountains to climb. Nothing could have prepared me for all the stones that life threw at me, stones with the potential of becoming destructive weapons or building blocks.
The one thing that always kept me going was the knowledge that somewhere deep inside me, there was something bigger and better waiting for me. Hope. The present was not the end, and my disability did not define me.
Maybe you were not born with a disability but have experienced disappointment, failure or hard times in your life. Maybe you have struggled with your self-esteem or had plans for your life that did not turn out as you anticipated and you feel lost, inadequate or hopeless.
By God’s grace my disability became a stepping stone towards the beautiful view God was busy preparing for me.
I was born with a disability on my left hand, called a lobster hand (meaning I only have a pinkie and a thumb). I was labeled as being different and was mocked throughout kindergarten and my school years, causing me to feel not good enough or accepted.
At the age of four I started playing tennis and quickly exceeded all expectations. I tried to earn my acceptance through my performance and it worked, until my tennis career was brought to a sudden halt at the age of seventeen at Junior Wimbledon. A disability, together with the strain of all the training, resulted in my hands being shattered together with my dreams. In my moment of devastation, my journey of hope in Christ began.
At first I blamed myself for my plans not working out. Then I turned to God, asking all the “why-questions”…Why me? Why a disability? Why stop everything now…until He asked me…“Why not?”
That was when I realized, God was not surprised by my disability or circumstances. He was also not to blame for my shortcomings.
He was not the reason for my pain, but He was the only reason to find meaning in all my struggles.
Even though I did not see myself as someone with a disability, I still had to make a choice to not label or limit myself, but instead look for Jesus in every challenge I faced. My hope was not found in what I did or how I saw myself but in knowing Who I belonged to and how He saw me.
Yes, I had a physical disability, but in spite of that, I was righteous in Christ because of His perfect sacrifice for me on the cross. As I began to understand my victory over my disability with the help of Jesus and not allow it to hold me back, I was able to do the unthinkable with Jesus on my side and bring Him the glory. The mockery became harmless and it became opportunities to show God’s grace to others by responding in love.
My acceptance in Christ was not because of anything I did right but it has everything to do with Jesus’ love for me, even before I knew Him.
John 9: 1 – 3 (NKJV), “…as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was born blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man, not his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
I realized that life, more often than not, does not make sense, but my hope remains in the good plans God has for my life, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
Life’s imperfections are no surprise to God, but perfect opportunities for His grace to bring new meaning of hope and purpose in the midst thereof.
Maretha Retief is a follower of Jesus, a wife and mommy who lives in Pretoria, South Africa. Being born with a disability, she writes with a purpose to reveal the love of Jesus to the world in spite of our shortcomings. With grace running through her veins, she enthusiastically thrives each day, one word at a time. She is happily married to her loving husband, Daniël. They have two girls, Nerine and Mirraand together they aim to walk inside God’s grace