It is a very unique person that understands and embraces the setbacks of life. I would assume that for most of us we would prefer to avoid these unexpected and unwanted interruptions. It is interested that the Bible presents several positive insights on difficulties. I would like to look at how embracing these challenges puts us in the place of God’s blessing!
It does not take a reader long to figure out that secular life for many followers of Jesus was very difficult. We have been blessed to live in a country that originally was founded on and celebrated Christ and Biblical principles. The Judeo-Christian ethic produced many great cultures, great countries and great people, even with it flaws. The sad reality is that that time is past. We are now living in a “post Christian country.” But I digress. Many generations of followers have lived and are living in cultures that are adversarial toward Christianity. One of the secrets of embracing setbacks is to see them as God’s working in our life.
There are many places in the Bible where we see this truth. A passage in Hebrews 10:32-36 reminds us of the often overlooked Blessing in the believer’s life. These Christian did so well in the area at first. This seems to be true for most of us when we first come to know Christ. The challenges fade in comparison with the new life we have found in Christ. But then, like now, it does not take long, before the old attitudes creep back into our lives. Paul reflects on how they endured hard struggles, faced public humiliation, and supported others believers in the same position. They also had compassion for those in prison, and even accepted when their property was plundered. One of these is terrible, let alone having to suffer more than one. We are reminded of their sources of strength, “since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” (Hebrews 10:34b) The difference was seeing life from their perspective as a child of God!
One of the blessings of the setbacks in our lives is that they keep our faith fresh. It is easy as Jesus’ follower to live off the fumes of past accomplishments. One of the blessings of life’s challenges is that they force us to rely on the Lord. They keep us in a place of dependence. It seems that life’s challenge become more significant as a follower of Jesus matures. The danger of not embracing what God is doing is to become spiritually stale, superficial and even hypocritical. These believers are challenged, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:35–36)
Two practical insights stand out to me. The first blessing of “setbacks” is that they help us to become more confident in our faith and in our relationship with the Lord. This simply speaks of our spiritual growth and trust in the Lord. The second insight is that we develop endurance. We become more resilient and less susceptible to the ups and downs of life. While no one enjoy the trials of life, God does use them in our lives. Let us then embrace what God is doing!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson