Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: Four questions to ask when God turns setbacks into comebacks
Have you ever watched a football game when the underdog came back to win in the final seconds? We all love a good comeback story, especially when it results in an unexpected victory. In this week’s message, we look at four truths about setbacks and how every challenge is a setup for a great comeback.
Something To Talk About:
- Who am I? What do you do when the Lord requires something out of you that you believe is bigger than you? We all like to think we are looking for God to enlarge our borders and give us great opportunities, but one of the things I am learning, is that the opportunities I want and the ones God gives me aren’t always the same thing. His opportunities require us to come up higher, believe better and find more grace. His opportunities stretch us beyond all the comfort and security zones we’ve built. That is the situation Moses finds himself in and he says so: ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? God answers Him, “…I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:11-12) Even when life seems out of control, you can be sure of this: God is with you and has a plan and a purpose for you. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
- Who are you? “But Moses protested, ‘If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14. Some of us are facing difficult times right now. Some of us are facing setbacks in our life. Perhaps you are questioning God like Moses did. You’re doubting your relevance to God, and you’re doubting His relevance in your life. You know exactly who He is, but His absence, His lack of intervention during a setback, is causing you doubt. In these times we need to remember. “I am.” God was promising Moses that He was adequate, or sufficient, for each and every need. By the word “adequate,” we do not mean barely sufficient but completely sufficient. God meant He was utterly sufficient in quality and quantity to meet any challenge that would arise while bringing Israel out of Egypt. God is still adequate to meet any need we might have in our lives.
- What about them? “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, “The LORD never appeared to you?”’ Then the LORD asked him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A shepherd’s staff,’ Moses replied.” (Exodus 4:1-2) Moses proves quite adept at coming up with excuses and, in the process, reveals our fears and insecurities as humans when it comes to “doing the right thing.” Even having been assured about God’s presence with him and given God’s very name, Moses is still not convinced. Moses’ question is sensible and obvious enough, however. After all, he left Egypt a fugitive under sentence of death and he had been away a long time. Why would the Israelites risk a confrontation with the Egyptian government on his say so? Why should they believe his report about meeting with the Lord in the desert? The question: “what is that in your hand?” draws our attention to the fact that what Moses is holding is an ordinary stick. The point is Moses needs to look no further than his own hands to find what he needs for the task that is being given to him. God has deliberately chosen Moses for who Moses was, and God would use what Moses had on hand for God’s purposes. The same is true of us today.
- How about this? Moses next gets a little more specific:“Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.’(Exodus 4:10) In other words I can’t do this. And God says, ““Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” (Exodus 4:11-12) So just think about, in your life, the skills and gifts that God has given you. Think of things that you are able to do. Those didn’t just happen naturally. God has provided those things in my life. And your life too. None of our gifts, skills, and abilities come from ourselves ultimately, or come from some natural means. They all come from God. God is the author of all of our gifts, all of our skills, all of our abilities. And He matches those gifts, skills, abilities to that which He calls us to do. God never calls us to something that He does not equip us to do.
- What’s the biggest journey you’ve been on in the past 5 years (vacation, mission trip, new job, big home project, life event, etc.)? As you think back at your life journey, have you had a “but then” turn for the worse and you found yourself making excuses?
- Read Exodus 2:11-15. Groomed to be Israel’s deliverer, Moses fails out of the starting blocks and ends up fleeing to a wasteland called Midian. There, he spends 40 years tending sheep in obscurity/solitude. Have you had a Midian-like chapter in your life? A set back? If so, what did you learn from it?
- Not only has God heard the cries of His people in Egypt, but He also has a plan to rescue them. Read Exodus 3:10. What’s the plan? Put yourself in Moses’ sandals—what’s going through his mind at this point (he’s lived in a desert and tended sheep for 40 years and now God is calling him to go to the most powerful man in the world and take Egypts labor force away. How do you think you would react?
- Moses is not convinced he’s the man. Read his excuses: Exodus 3:11, Exodus 3:13, Exodus 4:1, Exodus 4:10 and Exodus 4:13.
- Moses was just like us when we feel overwhelmed or inadequate. He focused on his deficiencies instead of God’s sufficiency. God’s response to Moses is summed up in the 5 words found in Exodus 3:12. God says: “I will be with you.” What was the point God was trying to get Moses to grasp?
- Is there a big (or small) challenge God is pointing you to…something God wants you to lean into? What excuse could you easily use to excuse yourself from that challenge?
- Why did God use a burning bush to get Moses’ attention? If you had been Moses, what would you have thought about this event? What has the burning bush (God’s attention-getter) been in your life: Good times? Bad times? Something else? How would God get your attention and encourage you to accept a new mission for your life?
- How can you exhibit more faith when God is calling you to do something? This week, try asking God for faith and the ability to trust him more.
- What does God’s name, “I AM WHO I AM,” reveal about God?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
Take one thing home with you:
It was just another ordinary day. Nothing special. Nothing out of the norm. For Moses, it was pretty much the same routine it had been for the past 40 years: Wake up. Take care of sheep all day. Go to bed. Start all over the next day. His years spent growing up as a prince in Pharaoh’s palace on the beautiful banks of the Nile seemed a lifetime away. Now his days consisted of taking care of his father-in-law’s flocks of sheep out on the dry and dusty desert plains of Midian. At 80 years old, his life was over. Whatever dreams he may have once had were now long gone after some serious setbacks. But were they? As it turned out it was only the beginning.