Progress: Strengthened by trials

As we talked about in the previous devotion, you’re all about encouraging progress in your athletes and team. Sometimes, however, you go through a time or even a season in which it seems like everything that could go wrong does go wrong. You face challenges and difficulties that appear to undermine your best plans for forward movement in your athletes and team. Is progress possible in the midst of adversity?

Looking again to 1 Peter 1, we discover that trials are not antithetical to progress. In fact, times of adversity can actually strengthen us in ways that move us forward. In the last devotion, we looked at 1 Peter 1:3 – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” When you’re a coach filled with this hope that the Risen Christ gives us, you can encourage a hope-filled mindset in your athletes. As the 3Dimensional Coaching curriculum says: “When your players have hope for success in the future, this gives them the power to persevere in the present.”

1 Peter 1 presses further into this very point, explaining that the hope we have in Christ makes all the difference when we encounter challenges and difficulties: “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (vv. 6-7).

According to these verses, here’s why trials strengthen us for greater progress:

1. God uses trials to demonstrate how much we matter personally to him. Because God cares about us, he wants us to grow and thrive in our faith. Trials have a way of motivating us to depend upon the Lord more fully, strengthening our relationship with him. This is exactly what we need for spiritual progress. If we’re comfortable all the time – no challenges or difficulties – we tend to become stagnant rather that growing in our faith.

When you understand this truth, Coach, it impacts the way you think about helping your athletes make progress. Your care for your athletes leads you to be intentional about encouraging the development of essential character qualities, including perseverance. Because of this, according to the 3Dimensional Coaching curriculum part of your job as a coach is to “put players into difficult situations and trials so they have opportunities to learn perseverance.” Out of God’s love for us, he uses trials to help us make progress. Out of your love for your athletes, Coach, reflect God’s heart through leveraging trials to encourage their progress rather than seeing adversity as a barrier.

2. God uses trials to strengthen what’s essential. As Peter puts it, trials strengthen and refine what’s most important: our faith in God. When circumstances are comfortable, often we’re not open to this refining process – which hinders our progress. View adversity as an invitation to respond to the deeper work the Lord desires to do in your life. Encourage this same mindset in your athletes, challenging them to see adversity as an opportunity to focus on growing stronger. As they recognize this opportunity in difficulties, they’re able to take significant steps forward.

When you face hard things as a coach or in your life personally, it’s obviously not fun. But it’s also a chance for progress spiritually and in building your team. As 1 Peter 1:6 tells us, “There is wonderful joy ahead.” Embrace the joy of trusting God’s work in the midst of adversity, knowing that he strengthens you and moves you forward through trials.

For reflection: Ask God to help you view adversity you’re facing in coaching or in life as an opportunity to grow. Express your desire to be responsive to his work in you and through you in whatever trials being experienced by you or your team.