Small Group Questions

Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: What do you do when your setback seems irreversible. 

Introduction:

A setback is defined as a loss of progress, a defeat of a plan, or a reversal of good fortune. In this message, when a setback seems irreversible, how do we trust God for a comeback. 

Bottom Line: When your setback seems irreversible, trust God. 

Something To Talk About:

There are five things to do when setbacks seem irreversible: They are: 

  1. Talk honestly with God about how you feel: God can handle your emotions. After all, He gave them to you. He can handle your anger, doubt, fear, questions, grief, and even your complaints. So be honest with God. Tell God exactly how you feel. This is exactly what Job did. Job was brutally honest with God: “I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain.” (Job 7:11) He continued to unload in the verses that follow: “Am I a sea monster or a dragon that you must place me under guard? I think, ‘My bed will comfort me, and sleep will ease my misery,’ but then you shatter me with dreams and terrify me with visions. I would rather be strangled—rather die than suffer like this. I hate my life and don’t want to go on living. Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.” God is not surprised by your emotional state. God let Job get it off his chest. Job questioned God’s actions, but he never stopped trusting God. Go ahead. Express all your feelings. Release your frustrations. God can handle it. 
  2. Refuse to become bitter: Setbacks are a part of life. At some point, you have to let it go. A setback will affect you but it doesn’t have to define you. A setback is a part of our life but not our identity. God gives you the grace to get through what you’re going through. Other people may be bitter and give you bad advice. “[Job’s] wife said to him, ‘Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But Job replied, ‘You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ So in all this, Job said nothing wrong” (Job 2:9-10) Job refused to become bitter and resentful. Bitterness prolongs the pain. It doesn’t relieve it; it only reinforces it. “…Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Hebrews 12:15) There’s a happy ending to Job’s life. “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.” (Job 42:12) The lesson of Job’s life is this: It doesn’t matter who’s hurt you or how long you’ve been hurt or how deeply you’ve been hurt. God can make the rest of your life the best of your life if you’re willing to forgive and let go of resentment and bitterness and trust Him. 
  3. Do life with people who help you focus on what matters most. One of the great realities of the Christian life is that it was meant to be shared together. Jesus knew that the life He was calling His disciples to do would be difficult and that none of them could do it on their own. So He established His church and designed it to function in community. We are totally dependent upon Him, but also upon one another. Small groups are an excellent way to do life with people who help us focus on what matters. God wants us to be there for each other. When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we should not have to face it alone. We’re urged to keep up with one another often. We need each other: the support, the encouragement, the help along the way. The Christian life is not easy and there are so many hills and valleys along the way. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  
  4. Surrender your future to God: Life will hand you setbacks that seem unfair.  And when God’s will for you seems cruel to you and anything but good, you will wage no greater battle than the surrender of your will. At that moment, when God’s goodness seems not very good, you stand only inches away from using setbacks to justify your sin. Don’t do it. Surrendering in absolute trust to God—as Job did—remains the only path to peace. Especially when you can make no sense of it all. The night before Jesus went to the cross, He agonized over that step of obedience so deeply that the Bible says His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow. He asked His Father if there was any other way, but He concluded that prayer by saying, “…not my will, but Thy will be done.” Jesus was willing to surrender His future to God because He trusted His Father completely. He let go of everything that might have held Him back from total obedience. 
  5. Trust Jesus for the details: The definition of faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Complete is the keyword. How many of us have complete trust in our spouses? Or our children? What about God? Do we have the kind of complete trust that enables us to layout setbacks at God’s feet and know that it is all going to go as it needs to? Do we trust enough to not sweat the details and allow God to work through the situation, even when His way may not add up to what we wanted? God has no limitations. He is all-knowing. He knows everything about me. He knows everything about you. He knows what you are thinking. He knows what you are feeling. He understands you better than you understand yourself. We can trust Him with the details.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the reasons Jesus gives for trusting in God, rather than worrying?
  2. What does it mean to trust God? What is the difference between passive trust and active trust?
  3. Give some examples of when you have trusted God and how you made the decision to trust Him rather than lean on your own understanding and strength. 
  4. What changes can we make to better trust God in all things?
  5. How have you experienced or observed the debilitating effects of bitterness? Does bitterness or resentment ever change the situation for the better? Does resentment or bitterness improve my relationship with God and others?
  6. Read Hebrews 10:22-23; 25: In what ways can assembling as a church/small group help us strengthen our faith?
  7. Urging each other to remain close to Christ is a crucial practice for maintaining faithfulness. Give examples of how being part of a church and/or small group has deepened your commitment to Christ. 
  8. The fully surrendered life is intended to be—and can be—the norm for every one of God’s children Do you agree with this statement? What are some areas that need to be surrendered? 
  9. Do you have enough faith to surrender the “impossible” situations over to God? 
  10. What did you read in this message that was particularly helpful to you?
  11. What would you do differently this week as a result of this message? 

Take one thing home with you:

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” –  Psalm 37:5-6. 

Psalm 37 addresses the challenge of unfairness in this world. Sometimes it seems the wicked are rewarded and those who try to obey God only suffer. But David urges us to take the long view and see that God makes everything right in the end. In the meantime, we must commit our way to Him, trusting that He will eventually bring not only justice, but blessings—the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).