by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
My most successful season as a high school soccer coach just ended. Our team was not only undefeated in our region, but we won district title and advanced to the state semi-finals. Progressing through the season, my team went through many ups and downs. For instance, although we won the most games in a season in school history, and saw players set new school records, we still lost a few games along the way, and had to deal with injuries. But, despite all that we faced, confidence and trust in each other, and the time we spent preparing for each game, became catalysts that enabled us to go further than any soccer team has ever gone in our county.
Just as my team experienced ups and downs, so, too, will we face them in life. In the words of Solomon, “For everything there is a season, a time for every action under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We need confidence to move forward through these seasons of life. Specifically, we need a confident faith in the God we serve! As the author of Hebrews states, “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Hebrews 11:1).
How do we acquire a confident faith? Through the time we spend each day in prayer and in reading the Word of God. Knowing who God truly is, and what He requires of us, begins in these moments; it develops a trust and confidence in God, which is essential for us to have as we go through the seasons of life.
Possessing a confident faith does not mean we will always know the “why.” In our semi-final game, we outplayed our opponent. From the first whistle we attacked and nearly scored a goal off of the kickoff. While we continued to create numerous scoring opportunities throughout the game, our best opportunity came with just a few minutes remaining in the game when our leading goal scorer broke loose and took a shot. The ball hit the post and instead of bouncing in, it bounced out! Literally, we were inches away from scoring the goal that would send the team to the state championship game. Instead, that missed shot propelled the game into overtime. The other team took advantage of a defensive breakdown to score and win the game. The loss was overwhelming for all of us. Several of my players collapsed on the field, emotionally drained from all that had transpired. Amid teary eyes and heavy hearts, the team huddled together and asked the resonating question, “Why?”. Despite our best efforts, creating more opportunities, a shot literally inches away from going in (Even the opponent’s coach said that “the better team did not win today”) the question still remained, “Why?”.
I could not give a full explanation to my team, and we often cannot know why things happen as they do in our lives. In a desperate search for answers, we often encounter instead, our own limitations; “Then Job replied to the lord: ‘I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me” (Job 42:1-3). In the seasons of life, a confident faith may not always know why, but always knows “Who.”
As the opposing team and their fans celebrated on the field, my team headed back to the locker room. After giving an interview for our local newspaper, I knew that my next task as coach would be the most important one of the season; to walk into the locker room and impart encouragement and strength to my brokenhearted players. They needed to hear that I was proud of them, and to show them with my actions that I would always stand beside them whether they won or lost.
Just like a coach who walks his players through the joys of winning and the pain of losing, we serve a God who does the same; a God who promises to be with us no matter in what season of life we find ourselves (Hebrews 13:5). We serve a God who will not only walk us through these seasons, but will also give us the strength and hope to persevere through them. Regardless of what season you are facing right now, or will face in the future, you can have a confident faith;
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust in Him” (Psalm 91:2).