Written By Mathilda Cronjé
The current FIFA Woman's World Cup 2019 reminded me of last year's Soccer World Cup and although I am not really a soccer fan, something in the spirit of the day caught my attention. Fascinated by all the players from different countries, languages, cultures and beliefs, I was glued to my seat in front of the TV.
The spirit in each team spoke of effort, team building, commitment, harmony, discipline, self-control, performance and fitness. All the practice these players have behind them really made it be world-class soccer. Tension, anger, frustration, disappointments, exhaustion, devastation, stress, and injuries are part of the game. All the soccer teams had one thing in mind, and that was to show the world they were the best and deserved the cup.
After group play-outs, they played the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. France and Croatia played against each other in the final game to determine who would be the world champions. France was the better team on the day and became the champions of the world.
I was astonished by the reaction of the losing Croatia team when the final whistle was blown. You could see the disappointment on their faces, the shock and sadness - they were utterly dumbfounded and devastated. Can you imagine how rejected they felt, what would their supporters say? I couldn't believe that at that moment they didn't realise that they are the second-best soccer team in the world?
The winning team, France, was totally overwhelmed and tears of joy flowed. Out of pure excitement and jubilation, they hugged and kissed each other and then lifted their coach up and over and over they threw him in the air. Joy and laughter were the order of the day because they had made it to the top, and they could be proud of it.
After the game had finished, they held the closing ceremony and handed out the medals and trophies. To me, this was the highlight of the broadcast. The president of FIFA, all officials, the presidents of Russia, France, Croatia and ten well-dressed lady débutantes, who brought the medals to the stage, were standing on a stage that was erected on the field. Croatia, the team who ended second and lost against France, appeared very humble and restrained as they came up first, to receive their deserved medals. During the procedure, it started to rain, and it was amazing to me that the players just kept on coming, the officials stood their ground, and the ceremony just carried on as normal. Everyone was wet but overjoyed! Hugs and kisses were dished out by the president of FIFA, and all the politicians and congratulations were the order of the day.
I believe the players were blessed with words like 'Well done you are the best', 'Keep up the game', and 'You are a champion, and we are proud of you'. None of those people was put off by the rain, and the excitement prevailed. The French team stood in the rain still rejoicing, waiting patiently, soaking wet, until it was their turn. As they went up, it showered down really hard. I'm sure that standing in such a shower requires self-control and endurance. But the adrenaline flowed, and all worries were cast into the wind and rain! As the group photo was taken of the winning team, gold foil confetti exploded all over them – it was a spectacular scene! The confetti stuck to their faces and bodies and marked them as the champions.
To me, it was so overwhelming that God sent the rain at that specific time and moment over all those people from all the different nations and they were not put off by it - they stayed joyous and happy. Glory to God for His huge blessing on that day! It was as if the rain was a confirmation of the well spirited and organised World Cup and the festivities.
Sometimes when it rains, I will take a quick walk in the rain because I do love the rain, but I do not like having wet, soaked and cold clothes on. This scene reminded me that there are times in our lives when God pours out His blessings on us. He embraces us, kisses us, rains down His love and compassion on us, and tells us how much He loves us.
1 John 4:16 (NKJV)
'And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.'
We can draw this comparison to our daily lives. Instead of receiving and enjoying the rain, we run into dry places and then completely miss out on the first-hand experience of God's blessing. It seems to me that we are so preoccupied with our own thoughts and doing things our own way that, even though it may not be our intention, circumstances, impatience, worries, stress, and bad things rob us of God's goodness.
Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)
'Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.'
Heb. 10:36 (AMPC)
'For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away (and enjoy to the full) what is promised.'
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
'But those who wait on the Lord renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.'
I can't help but thank God that through that Soccer World Cup, He opened my eyes to see beyond the event and what had taken place and put my thoughts into motion. Maybe next time it rains we should go and stand outside in the midst of it and feel the raindrops on our faces and bodies and enjoy the blessing the Lord is pouring out on us.