Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: When others keep setting you back.
Have you ever wondered why you have so many setbacks in life? Are you waiting for a happy ending to all the suffering and challenges? In this message, we look at a series of painful setbacks in Joseph’s life and how God used them to position Joseph for a spectacular comeback that saved two nations. You’ll learn how to follow his example of resilience by depending on God’s presence no matter where you are, and trusting His plan regardless of how long it takes.
Something To Talk About:
How do we lean on God’s help in every challenge that comes your way? Consider the following three things from the life of Joseph:
- He depended on God’s presence no matter where he was: We can trust God. Just because we may not see God’s almighty hands at work in our lives at a given time and place doesn’t mean He’s not working. And just because God may choose to allow us to experience hardship doesn’t mean that He is not present. No matter what you’re going to face this next week, you’re not going to face it alone. God is with you, He is in you, and He is for you. Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.“ Joseph’s story is a vivid illustration of the presence of God no matter where you are. Seven times we are told that the Lord was with Joseph: with him to bless him, to prosper him, to make him favorable to people, to make other people successful through him. God was there as a slave of Potiphar and when Joseph was unjustly thrown into prison. Through all of the struggles, Joseph was secure because the Lord was with him. We too need to depend on God in our struggles. As we seek to grow by experiencing Christ day-by-day, we need to learn to trust and depend on the presence of God no matter where we are or what our circumstances may be.
- He depended on God’s plan and purpose no matter how long it took: The Bible gives us many promises about God’s goodness and love toward us in general, and we should hold on to those promises and trust that He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:28). But God has never sat next to me on the couch and said, “I am going to do such-and-such a thing in your life, so just hold on, because it’s coming soon.” The experience of Joseph was like that. God never told Joseph that he was going to become the second most powerful man in Egypt and save the entire region from famine. Joseph had no idea while languishing in prison, that he was perfectly situated for God’s amazing purpose in his life. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and then he landed in prison because of a false accusation. For 13 years, things just went from bad to worse. And there was no assurance from God that the direction of his life was going to change. Sure, things turned around. But that was a long time to wait. It’s easy to feel angry and betrayed, or to lose hope and give up. Some of us may start to question God’s plan and purpose for us. God has a perfect track record. He has a specific plan for our lives and is in full and complete control of everything we’re going through.
- He depended on God’s help in every challenge: Jesus warned us that we’d have problems in life. No one is immune from pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. Joseph can certainly identify with that. As we read Joseph’s story, we have to agree that our difficulties are probably minor compared to what he went through. Some of us would probably look for some way to escape, but Joseph faced his challenges head-on. Joseph never let his situation cloud his perception of his relationship with God. Whether in good days or bad days, Joseph always knew he had a relationship with God. God was always there for him and with him. Even though Joseph lived about 3,500 years ago, we can all learn from Joseph and make it a habit to depend on God and seek his wisdom during both times of prosperity and famine. Challenges force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life.”(2 Corinthians 1:9 CEV)
- What does the story of Joseph mean to you? What does this story show you about God, and what impact does that have on your life?
- Joseph depended on God’s plan and purpose, no matter how long it took. How would you describe his attitude?
- Share a time when God turned a negative circumstance into something good in your life. How long did it take for you to realize that God was working his plan, and what did you do during the wait—or are you still waiting?
- How will your perspective of a difficult challenge change now that you know God is on your side?
- How have problems forced you to look to God and depend on Him instead of yourself? What is the most powerful truth you’ve learned through your challenges or setbacks?
- One of Joseph’s setbacks included being forced to do a job he didn’t want—several times over. Maybe you’re in a job you don’t like or wish you were somewhere else. Joseph did the best he could wherever he went, honoring God in all he did. How could adopting Joseph’s attitude or working for God and not people make a difference for you?
- The Bible tells us multiple times that says God was with Joseph: What does the Bible mean when it says that the Lord is with you?
- Can you think of a current situation you’re in (or one you might soon be in) that would give you the opportunity to demonstrate to other people that your confidence is in God?
- Has anything specific jumped out to you in the sermon this week?
- Based on this message, what’s one thing that I should either start doing, stop doing, or change?
Take one thing home with you:
The Bible tells us that the Lord was with Joseph, but that didn’t mean he was exempt from trial. His brothers had sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused and jailed for many years for a crime he didn’t commit. God uses these setbacks to prepare Joseph for bigger and better things.
From Joseph’s perspective, it must have seemed like everything was out of control. He was in the fire and trusted that all the events were a carefully God-controlled burn. That was God’s way then, and it is still His way today. God calls us into the same higher school of learning on trust that He called Joseph into. When we trust God, we find that which was true of Joseph will become true in our lives: “The Lord was with Joseph.” He will be with us too.