Setbacks

We never can be sure what the day will hold.

Some days go as we planned them but most are filled with unplanned interruptions. It has been said that some of the most important teachings of Jesus came when someone interrupted him. It is good to look at unplanned interruptions as opportunities the Lord sends our way.

There. That was easy enough.

But what about those huge interruptions when we fail at something really important to us? Most of us don’t shoot from the hip in things that really matter. We take careful aim but still, sometimes, we miss the target. Our momentum is lost. Our rhythm gets off by a beat or more. We have to regroup, re-plan, reorganize, and somehow restore our enthusiasm. Talk about interruptions!

Sometimes things just don’t work out.
When, on the well-imagined, finely tuned, well-plotted journey of life, something just doesn’t work out, this setback must be carefully managed. The high hopes that sung us to sleep each night have stopped singing altogether. In their place is a mournful lament. As mature as we might like to think we are, the truth is our feelings are hurt. Setbacks are painful for they strike us in the heart with disappointment and in the mind with questions we thought we had answered correctly.

What is the old worn out saying? “The best laid plans of rodents and regents sometimes fail.”—something like that, anyway. Being neither rats nor rulers, this certainly applies to us. So how do we respond to setbacks, large and small?

Setbacks Small and Large
The small setbacks are managed easily with simple time management and coping skills. We know we cannot react to everything that happens. We must choose where our limited supply of energy will go.

Big setbacks—failures, shortfalls, crises, unfaithful people, wrong-headed ideas and plans—demand careful thinking and intentional examination.

  • Examine the plan. Was it from God? Did it work to fulfill the call on your life?
  • Examine the motivation behind the plan. Was this a godly thing to attempt? Were the hearts of the leaders pure?
  • Examine the presentation of the plan. Was there a mixed message that undermined the ministry? Was this sold to the people? Was there a consensus in the minds of the people or was this a top-down effort?

The Holy Spirit will lead you to the right questions to ask. Remember,

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault…”

Besides, you are certainly not alone:

  • An angel with a flaming sword posted at Eden’s Gate was a major setback for Adam and Eve.
  • Growing past the age of childbearing was certainly a setback to Abraham and Sarah.
  • Moses experienced setback after setback as Pharaoh continually hardened his heart.
  • King David’s heart broke when a young man lay dead by the Ark of the Covenant, but he recovered, consulted the Word of God, and called for the Priests and brought the Ark to Jerusalem.
  • John the Baptist became discouraged in prison and asked if Jesus was the One or should he look for another.
  • Jesus couldn’t heal in some towns because of unbelief so He just went on the next village.
  • Peter denied the Lord three times and all the disciples except John ran away. Later, they turned the world upside down.
  • Paul experienced too many setbacks to relate in this short space. His words to us are as powerful today as when he wrote them centuries ago.

Take heart. You will get another chance to get it right.

Scriptures:
Philippians 3:12-14
…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. … I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you lived on this wonderful, fallen planet. You ran a business and were part of family who didn’t quite know what to do with you. I am sure your hammer slipped a time or two and hit your thumb. You probably did quality work for someone who never paid you more than empty promises. You chose twelve men to follow you and one them didn’t. Lord, you knew the setbacks built into life. You had to think on your feet, dodge the sucker punches, and take the losses, so you know how it is done. Walk in me today so that if a setback should surprise me or a disappointment find me or a faithless friend should betray me with a kiss, it will be just the old routine of life on earth. Your experience and resilience will clothe me in peace. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Song:
God Leads Us Along

Words and Music: G.A. Young
1. In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along;

Refrain:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along;

Refrain

3. Though sorrows befall us and Satan oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along;

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “January 18

    1. Thanks, Durinda! I am so glad you are following these pieces and that you enjoy them. I feel like I am doing something helpful and significant and I hope Mrs. Miller would be proud! The play has one more dress rehearsal, then an invited audience and then we open Friday night! Somehow as sweet and positive as I am, I can play a mean old man! Must be in me somewhere!
      Steve.

      Like

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