Although in recent years the phrase Trust the Process has become a rallying cry for Philadelphia 76ers, I certainly remember hearing it said much earlier in my lifetime. Typically it’s said by a coach attempting to win over a player’s confidence that the work put in today will reap benefits down the road.
It takes a lot of work to progress from a high school freshman to a college-ready athlete. And it will take even more work if that college freshman wants to make it to the Pros. And again, if you want to be among the best and have a long pro career – you better be ready to put in the work. Few can ascend the ranks on natural talent, and those that do are forever remembered as someone who “never reached their full potential”.
Even if you have the motivation to work hard, you will need guidance. You need that coach, that mentor, and their system – developed and refined over time to produce results in you that you may not even believe are possible. You need someone who isn’t swayed by your emotional inner monologue. You need a plan that takes all areas of your development into account.
However, the full list of what we need to develop is typically a blind spot. Sure, we know our big weaknesses and a few of the little ones, for good measure. But then the coach gives you a tough workout today after doing yesterday’s tough workout. And then you are drilling – yet again – on the fundamentals. You want to move on to other types of training, but coach won’t let up. Sometimes, the drills just seem odd or unconnected to what we imagine as what’s best for us. And it’s frustrating.
It’s in those moments you hear the phrase – Trust the Process.
Did you know that God has a development plan for believers?
Becoming a Christian is simple enough, even a child can do it – we believe that Jesus will give us eternal life. His death on the cross paid the penalty for all sin and His resurrection from the dead proved that He can fulfill His offer of eternal life. Believing means we are persuaded that Jesus can do what He claims He can do; we are taking Him at His word, and we have faith in who He is.
When Paul was writing to the believers in Rome, he started his letter discussing how we are separated from God by sin and the only way to reconcile is by faith – not promises to do better, not dedicating our lives, not by effort, but by faith alone in Jesus. At the end of this section, he says:
Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
But then Paul transitions his letter from how our relationship starts with God to what God has in mind for this relationship. He spends chapters 5-8 discussing what this new life in Christ looks like; however, take a look at what idea Paul leads this next discussion topic with:
And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Do you see The Process which God has in mind? We all want to have hope as we go through this life, looking forward to when God will set everything right…but developing that kind of solid hope has some prerequisites.
Rather than wondering “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” we need to Trust the Process God has laid out for His children. Afflictions are hard, but they are worth rejoicing over because we know what’s on the other side and Who is with us the whole time.
Coaches often push us out of our comfort zone, in unexpected ways, in order to develop us further. John Wooden spent time at the beginning of each season teaching his players how to put on their socks. Mr. Miyagi gave Daniel-san the wax-on-wax-off chore. I had a baseball coach insist that I learn how to juggle two baseballs. None of these situations make sense to the athlete at the time, but they were all intentionally designed by the coach – John Wooden didn’t want his players dealing with foot blisters, Mr. Miyagi was teaching muscle memory, and my coach needed me to improve my hand-eye coordination.
God never promised Christians that life would be easy. Jesus was quite clear that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). However, our afflictions aren’t meaningless. God has a purpose for us in them.