Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: When you feeling like giving up.
It’s always easier to start something than it is to finish it — college courses, construction projects, and even fitness goals. Just like a marathon, as time goes on it becomes harder to cross the finish line because of setbacks that often leave us feeling defeated. Did you know that setbacks are actually part of the character-building process designed by God? This week’s message discusses the causes of discouragement that lead to fatigue, frustration, fear, and a sense of failure. Find out what to do when you’re ready to give up, starting with reorganizing your life, refocusing on God, and resisting discouragement.
Something To Talk About:
- Reorganize whatever is not working: Getting centered is stopping whatever I’m doing, evaluate my priorities, and sometimes rearranging and reorganizing things that are not working. We want God’s best for us. We long to be the person that they are designed to be. To achieve that may require us to pause and reorganize what we do and how we do it. Imagine you want to remodel your bathroom because it is old or outdated. You start the project and discover some mold. You could ignore it or postpone the problem by painting over the mold. Doing that just pushes the problem down the road when it will be an even bigger problem. It needs to be fixed right. It will change the schedule and the cost, but it is necessary, to have a remodeled bathroom with everything in working order. Our plans can change as well. Sometimes we need to rethink and reorganize what we are doing. Maybe we started with the wrong assumptions. Maybe what we are doing is not working. Pray this week about the things in your life that don’t seem to be working. Ask God for clarity on your goals, making sure your goals align with His will, and ask for guidance in making them fruitful, meaningful and sustaining.
- Refocus on God: All of us are going to have problems in life and sometimes those problems can get us off track with God. But, the way you see the problems in your life will determine how you react to them. For instance, if I see a problem as a disaster, then my reaction is going to be discouragement. In order to refocus your life, you’ve got to make the right choices in life. Nehemiah made three choices that helped him refocus on God. If you will read Nehemiah 1:5-11 you’ll find that Nehemiah’s prayer shows us how to ask God for help in difficult situations. In his prayer, Nehemiah recognizes who God is and that He can do anything. Then he recognizes he has sinned and needs God’s grace, forgiveness, and strength. Then he gets really specific with God and asks God to help him be successful by recalling what God did for him in the past. As a result of getting refocused on God, Nehemiah and Israel were able to rebuild the wall that had been broken down for so many years. Is there something broken in your life? Your marriage, your finances, your career, your health, your relationship with God? In order to rebuild any of those things the first thing you need to do is get your focus off your problem and refocus on God.
- Resist the discouragement: “Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!’ (Deuteronomy 1:21) For most people, dealing with discouragement is hard. Discouragement can drag you down quickly. We should not give into discouragement without a fight. We can’t always choose what we experience but we can choose how we respond. When we feel discouraged we need to read Deuteronomy 31:8, which says: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Resist discouragement by concentrating on the big picture. In the story of building the wall in Nehemiah, people were walking on little sections of the wall and they found it hard to get any perspective. Nehemiah rallies them around so that they got the bigger picture. When you can only see what is going on in your life then you can become easily discouraged. We can lose sight of God’s purposes and we get out of perspective. People of character are resilient. They get discouraged like everyone else. But they don’t stay down very long. They pray. They persist. And they remember what God has already done in their lives. Through prayer, persistence, and remembering what God has done, we can resist discouragement.
- Have you ever become discouraged in some aspect of your life and thought about giving up? What makes that situation particularly difficult? What have you heard in this message that might be helpful?
- What excuses are you prone to use when you are at the halfway point and want to give up? What helps you to continue to move forward?
- Read Hebrews 1:1-4: How can seeing Jesus as He is revealed in these verses help us when we are struggling with discouragement and feel like giving up?
- What is the difference in how Nehemiah depended on God and how you do it?
- What are ways that you have gained perspective when facing discouragement, doubt, and fear?
- What do you need to reorganize because it is not working? Self-care? Time management? Quiet time?
- Psalm 119:25 (TLB) says, “I am completely discouraged—I lie in the dust. Revive me by your Word.” How can the Bible help us when we are discouraged?
- It is helpful to remind ourselves “This too shall pass!” when we feel like giving up?
- What can you learn from the passage about handling opposition to God’s work? How might your situation differ from what Nehemiah faced in his day?
- What stood out to you most from the story of of Nehemiah? How does praying persistently for a significant period of time prepare us for moments of decision and discouragement in our lives?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
Take one thing home with you:
All of us have been tempted to lose hope and give up. But we always have a choice: focus on God and stay in faith, or focus on the problem and give up. We tend to forget that our problems, not matter how big they seem to us, are no problem to God. Nothing is too hard, or complicated, for God to solve. So what should you do when we feel like giving in and giving up? Resist first and then refuse to give up. Just keep your focus on the Lord and rejoice in His faithfulness. Remember that God will see you through. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
When you have s setback and feel like giving up, don’t be moved by the circumstances. Keep your eyes on the Lord.