Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Where True Hope Lies – Mark Appel

It feels great to finally be healthy, back on a team, and competing again. We’re in the full swing of the season now and I’m really thankful for where I am.

We’ve only been together in Lehigh Valley for about a month now; half the team is the same as last year, and the other half has been filled with new guys. This doesn’t really affect my play much but it does make the team dynamic a little different from year to year.

My recovery process is not as fast as I’d like it to be. I’m healthy, in great physical condition, and I’m thankful for that, but because I wasn’t pitching during the offseason in preparation for this Season, my arm is still being conditioned to throw 100+ pitches in a game. As a competitor, I want to be able to give my team 7-8 innings in a game and I’m just not there right now. But every time I take the mound, my arm gets stronger. I know I have much more in my tank, so right now it’s a matter of trusting the process.

In the past I would get really frustrated or feel defeated if I wasn’t playing at the top of my game, but today I have a greater sense of hope, knowing that at the end of the day, no matter what the results are, the Lord’s promises are true. God is always with us and will never forsake us. He’s there in the struggle, the pain, the frustration. He’s not disappointed with us when we’re not at 100%. Instead He’s there to encourage, to build up, and to fill our spirit with courage, perseverance, and endurance so that we can continue to work hard and trust in Him. We can trust that Christ’s work on the Cross has conquered any struggle that we might be facing today. When He promises something to us, He won’t back away. He’s there to see it all the way through. He is faithful.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6

Finding myself in these kinds of circumstances can be frustrating, but I know that my success on the field is not the purpose of my life. Yes, this desire to work hard and play this game to the best of my ability is God-given, but it doesn’t make me a failure or a less-worthy version of Mark when I don’t meet the goal that I’ve set for myself.

God has great intention for our successes and our failures. It’s in every moment that we need to remind ourselves of God’s truth—the truth that’s been tucked away in our hearts. This is how we can go out and find success without becoming overly cocky and how we can experience failures without feeling completely defeated. We can remain steady because the Lord our God is steady beside us. Our true success is found in Christ alone—the King of our hearts.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” —Lamentations 3:22-23

—Mark Appel

Mark Appel was the number one overall pick by the Houston Astros in 2013. Currently, he’s pitching in the Philadelphia Phillies organization at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.

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