“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” — Proverbs 16:1 (NLT)
I had just graduated high school and finished off a great senior year in my running career. I had medaled in provincial cross-country championships earlier in the school year, and had finished my senior year of high school track with a silver medal in the 1500m and a gold in the 5000m. It was enough to earn “Male Athlete of the Year” at my high school. My track season was off to a great start.
The next event for me was the Canada Summer Games trials. It was a chance to represent the province of Nova Scotia on a national level and compete against some of the best middle-distance runners our country had to offer. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the team, but I was eager to finish out the rest of the summer season.
I called my coach after the trials and asked him what the next steps were. He said, “Well Pep, we’re going to get you to take a month off. No practices. Not even training runs. Take it easy for the next month and we’ll start back up in mid-August.” I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t gone that long without running since I was 10 years old. Even before I was running competitively, I would run at least once or twice a week to stay in shape for soccer. How could this possibly help me be a better runner?
My coach had a great track record. He had helped coach numerous national junior track teams. The previous season he had helped one of my teammates become second-team All-Canadian in his freshman year at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. The same teammate would go on to get a full athletic scholarship from West Virginia University and would transfer there the following season. So when my coach said “take a break,” I trusted his wisdom and knew he had my best interest in mind.
I would have a good season my freshman year under his guidance at Saint Mary’s. In my sophomore year, I would finish just shy of all-conference with the cross country team and would go on to compete at the Canadian National University Championships. I would even eventually go on to represent Nova Scotia at the Canada Summer Games in London, Ontario, four years later — all because I listened to my coach and trusted that he knew best.
The saying “trust the process” is commonly thrown around in sports circles. It refers to trusting a coach or an organization’s game plan for success, especially in the face of criticism over short-term setbacks when people want instant results. You will see this from championship-starved franchises that are in the middle of a rebuild. Trusting the process requires a lot of hard work and patience.
As followers of Christ we also need to trust the process. Too often when we pray, we are looking for God to provide instant gratification. As soon as we hit a snag in life, we pray God will immediately remove the obstacle we believe is holding us back from our goals or even our walk with Christ. But often, God allows trials and obstacles to help build our faith. Although we can’t understand what God is doing in the moment, often when we look back at our trials, that is where God grows our character and perseverance.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” — James 1:2-3 (NLT)
If you’re going through trials right now, know that God hasn’t abandoned you. He is building your faith and character so He can use you for a bigger purpose. The enemy will tell you that if God really loved you, He would deliver you from all trials and suffering. But we know our Heavenly Father loves us and is building us to be the ultimate player on His team. We just need to trust His process and know He is working for our good and the good of His Kingdom.
— Andrew Pepper, Halifax Mooseheads hockey chaplain
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