Small Group Questions

Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: When a setback leaves you emotionally empty.  

Introduction:

One of the common negative side effects of setbacks is that they can drain your emotional tank, leaving you feeling empty so that you have no reserves for dealing with daily life. When you feel like you have nothing left to give, each day feels as if you’re running on fumes. In this message, we look at the setbacks in Elijah’s life and discover how to find rest, release, and refocusing through Christ.

Something To Talk About:

How does God refill your tank when a setback leaves you emotionally drained? Consider the following three things: 

  1. God makes me rest my body:  Elijah was suffering from burnout. You can read about a very tired prophet in 1 Kings Chapter 19. He was exhausted. He tells God, “I have had enough Lord. Take my life . . .” Then he falls asleep. He is spent. Elijah is just too physically and emotionally drained to understand the situation. He is not that different from the rest of us attempting to push ahead in our own strength. We press on until we run out of steam and crumple in a heap. God knows that we are very vulnerable to misinterpreting our life circumstances when we are tired or when we are overwhelmed. Like Elijah, we can fall prey to “nobody knows what I have to deal with — and worse, no one cares!” There are times when we simply need to shut down, take a nap, or just be alone to read, refuel and re-energize through prayer and rest. There is nothing wrong with saying no when we are weary. After a while, God tells Elijah to leave the cave and get back to work. But first, he is allowed to rest. There are times when we need to do the same.
  2. God encourages me to release my frustrations: When we think of Elijah, we tend to think of how he fearlessly taunted Baal’s prophets and God responded with fire that licked up and evaporated every drop of water on the drenched altar. (1 Kings 18:20-38) Elijah fervently prayed seven times and God sent a deluge of rain that soaked the parched and cracked earth, ending a three-year drought. (1 Kings 18:42-45) But then Queen Jezebel threatened him and he fled. He hunkered down in a cave and sang the blues. He feels he has done his best for God and it has been to no avail. He is frustrated. All of us get down and frustrated from time to time. These are the times you need to tell God how you feel. You need to explain to Him why you’re frustrated with Him. Just as you would need to clear the air with others, you need to clear the air with your Savior. Because until you do, you will continue to bottle up your feelings, dwelling on the frustration that will turn into anger and eventually bitterness.   
  3. God tells me to remember and refocus on Him: Elijah was at the end of his rope. After all the amazing things God had done, Elijah could only focus on the fact that someone was threatening his life. At this moment, Elijah forgot that God is infinitely more powerful than Jezebel. He was looking at things through human eyes, only seeing the threat in front of him. Elijah needed to refocus. Most believers are guilty of doing what Elijah did. At times, we too need to refocus. But God did not leave Elijah to lie there and focus on himself. God sent an angel to him. Elijah awoke to the smell of fresh bread baking. There is no more comforting smell than that. Elijah sat up and ate some of that bread and drank the fresh water God provided. The angel told him to have “seconds”, because he was about to go on a long journey. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.The writer of Hebrews knew this is true also for the Christian life: we should not get tangled in the work of putting one foot in front of the other. Instead we should focus on the destination: Jesus Christ. We must run the race marked out for us—but with our eyes fixed on the finish line. The writer also adds more good news: we are not running on our own strength; we are running in the strength of Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Elijah had performed many miracles and had seen God’s power in seemingly impossible situations, yet when he is threatened by Jezebel he is afraid, depressed, and even wants to die. Why do you think Elijah responded to this threat in this way? 
  2. When someone threatens you, how do you tend to react? Why? 
  3. In what ways can you relate to Elijah when he says, “I have had enough?”
  4. Is rest important to you? Why? Do you have enough margin in your life?
  5. Should we go to God with our frustrations? Why? 
  6. Read 1 Kings 19:11-13:In what ways is God leading Elijah to remember and refocus on Him? How does focusing on God and his power inspire and refill you when a setback leaves you emotionally empty? 
  7. When we focus more on finding God and less on our trials during the tough times, we grow closer to Him. We experience a peace beyond anything we can imagine. Suddenly our lives become more about praising Him and having a relationship with Christ, and less about wallowing. Agree or disagree and why? 
  8. How can you focus more on God and less on the troubles in your life? 
  9. Have you ever experienced a time when God’s presence helped direct you back to where He wanted you to be? 
  10. What is God showing you through this week’s discussion?  

Take one thing home with you:

 “ We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”  –  Hebrews 12:2.

There is a famous story in the Bible where Peter was eager and brave enough to ask Jesus to let him walk on water. As Jesus approached the disciples’ boat He gave Peter permission to join him. As he walked out on the water, Peter’s trust wavered, and he started looking around in doubt. As his eyes caught sight of the wind and the stormy waves around him, Peter became afraid.

If he could have focused his eyes only on Jesus, Peter would not have been afraid, for Jesus can calm any storm. In a sense, Peter needed tunnel vision so that he wouldn’t be distracted from focusing on Jesus.