Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks
Rev. Lily Lim | On 30, Aug 2015
Job 13:15 (NKJV) – Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so I will defend my own ways before Him.
Job 13:15 (Amp) – [I do it because, though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him and] behold, He will slay me; I have no hope –nevertheless, I will maintain and argue my ways before Him and even to His face.
The journey of life is a long and arduous one with many setbacks along the way.
What is a setback? The dictionary defines SETBACK as “a check to progress; a reverse or defeat.”
Setbacks are inevitable even for believers of Christ. The Galatians Christians were running well in their Christian race but one setback came in and Paul had to ask them, “You did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7) For the Galatians, their setback was a wrong gospel hindering them from obeying the truth.
No human can escape from setbacks of life because we are all living in a fallen world.
But what distinguishes a believer of Christ from those who aren’t is- we have the power of Christ within us to turn our setback into a comeback.
What is a comeback? The dictionary defines it as “a return to a former higher rank, popularity, position and prosperity.”
This morning, I would like to share a message on ‘TURNING OUR SETBACKS INTO COMEBACKS’.
Let’s look into the life of Job because he literally turned his setbacks into comebacks. The story of Job is – He had everything; he lost everything and he got everything (plus interest) back.
(I) JOB – A MAN WITH MAJOR SETBACKS
I don’t think in this church anyone has experienced so many setbacks as Job.
His setbacks were major and catastrophic. You could say he lost much in succession.
He lost his FAMILY, FORTUNE, FITNESS AND FRIENDS.
Worse was during his setback, he had three friends who kept telling him how he must have done something wrong or God wouldn’t have punished him by taking away everything.
Somebody says, “It wasn’t as much as why do bad things happen to good people as it is about religious people misunderstanding the way of the Lord with His kids.”
Lousy and religious counselors will be there during our setbacks. Normally they will come in the following forms of:
• Eliphaz (A Man of Testimonial Experience)
These are the counselors or friends who think they already have been there and done that. No matter what you go through this kind of person has had it worse.
• Bildad (A Man of Traditional Explanation)
This type of counselor always equates our setbacks to sins or the devil. Bildad says that all these things happened to Job because he was a bad fellow.
• Zophar (A Man of Total Estimation)
These are people or friends who look at our situation and simply tell us that we need to repent of our sins and get right with God and then these setbacks wouldn’t happen. Zophar tells Job that Job is getting far less than he deserves.
We must be careful to hear from God on what he would say about our setback rather than to suck in all the lies and accusations from the wrong people and be set even more back.
(II) JOB – HIS CHOICE IN SETBACKS
Our setbacks will do one of two things in our lives:
• THEY CAN DRIVE US TO GOD
If you understand that the Lord is in control of all of life, then you can rest in the sure knowledge that God is in control of all that comes to pass in life.
Illustration: Our life is like a parade where every one participates in. We can only march towards what we see ahead with our limited view. But God is like one who sits on top of the stadium. He looks down and sees us marching in the parade. He could see our past, our present and our future. He has an overview over our lives.
• THEY CAN DRIVE US AWAY FROM GOD
Job reacted to the 4 setbacks by maintaining his faith in God.
If the setbacks of Job’s were to happen to us, I believe we would do one of the 3 Bs:-
• Blame God
• Bitter against God
• Bother no more with God
But Job chose none of the 3 reactions. He chose to believe in God still.
(III) JOB – HIS REACTION TO SETBACKS
1. ALWAYS TRUST IN GOD
Job 13:15a (NKJV) – Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Job placed his unwavering trust in God during the most difficult setbacks of his life.
He declares, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him.”
In other word, “Though God slays me, I STILL believe!”
We must cling to God even when we cannot find comfort from Him. Job proclaimed that regardless of what God would do or allow to happen to him, he would never lose faith.
The loss in Job’s life was tremendous and heartbreaking. Many men would have cursed God to his face but not Job. Job said to God, “God, you can kill me, but I’m not leaving you. Trusting you is more important than living is to me.”
Job’s ancient statement (Though he slay me, I will hope in him) to this day strikes dread into the heart of nominal Christians everywhere.
How many of us dare to declare to God in the same faith of Job?
• Regardless of my setback, I’ve got to keep trusting God!
• No matter what you take, God…I’m gonna trust you.
• No mater what I suffer, God….I’m gonna trust you.
• No matter what you do to me, God…I’m gonna trust you.
• No matter the diagnosis is, God… I’m gonna trust you.
That statement of Job also strikes dread into the heart of the enemy! The gates of hell will not prevail when we say – I still believe even if God slays me.
The devil cannot stop us or the church with that kind of commitment to God.
We are telling the pain, the hardship, the devil, the cancer, the divorce, the circumstance, the funeral, the poverty and the setback that NOTHING can stop us from trusting God.
This is where Job ended up …his willingness to give up his life for God.
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me…”
When we can say what Paul say, that we have already died, then we can trust God to turn our setbacks into comebacks.
Our setbacks rarely turn on a dime into comebacks when our faith and trust are not perfected.
The turn is a PROCESS that involves the maturing of our faith.
James 1:2-4 (Msg) – Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
It is so easy to declare like Job – “Lord, though you take away everything from me, I will still trust you.” But in practice it is difficult. I just want to tell you that our faith in many areas of our life differs. Some of us have faith in God for our job, our family and our children but not so much for our health. A little pain in our head will send of us thinking we have brain tumor when it is just a minor headache. Or some of us have great faith in God for our ministry, our spiritual battle but when it comes to finance, our faith flops. Therefore God sometimes allow setback and pressure in that weakest area of our life so that our faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. And mind you – many times the true color of faith shows we have failed in believing God in the midst of that setback. And God has to mold and deal with the area of our life where we have the weakest faith till we dare to confidently declare to God – Even though you slay me, I still believe. Till we reach this stage, God will keep dealing and maturing our faith. Real faith goes into the Word of God, believes God and foresees as real fact what is not yet revealed to the five physical senses.
Application: What are your setbacks? Finance? Business? Marriage? Do you dare to still declare to God, to the devil and to your circumstance – I still believe?
May the Lord help each one of us to reach the place that no matter what are our setbacks are, we can honestly say, “I still believe!” There will be plenty of times when we will not understand. That’s okay. There will be times when we will not know what to do. That is okay as well.
But may we all always know that no matter what happens along life’s journey, God always has our best interests at heart and that He will always do the right thing in us, for us and to us! Can you look at all that has happened in your life and say, “I still believe?” God help us to reach that place.
2. ALWAYS PRAY TO GOD
Job 13:15 (NKJV) – Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so I will defend my own ways before Him.
Job 13:15 (Amp) –[I do it because, though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him and] behold, He will slay me; I have no hope –nevertheless, I will maintain and argue my ways before Him and even to His face.
When we read this verse, we read it negatively by concluding that Job disrespectfully argued with God and became defensive before God.
That is not what the original text of the Bible means.
What it implies is that Job wanted to share his heart with God in God’s presence. Job was speaking from a LEGAL point of view. He was in effect saying. “I’m pleading my case…arguing my point…release me from my setbacks!!”
Talking to God about his setback, THAT IS PRAYER.
Job could not have effectively argued with God if he had been a hypocrite, liar, hateful, unforgiving, prideful, living in perpetual sin. Job wasn’t all these. On the contrary, God asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant, Job? He is the finest man in all the earth- a good man who fears God and will have nothing to do with evil (Job 1:8).
Job’s prayers were powerful during his setback because he was living a godly life even in the setback.
The effectiveness of our prayers is directly related to the authenticity of our walk of faith. Hypocrites, repetitive perpetual sinners have a hard time getting God’s ears,
John 9:31- We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.
1 Peter 3:12 – For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
But let’s face it – how many of us dare to claim we are as blameless as Job? How many of us today dare to say that our faith in God is very steadfast and constant? Many of us have failed God in our walk with God; many of us have sinned against God. Then does that mean we will continue to have setbacks in our life since our defeated and sinful lives have caused us to lose our rights to defend ourselves before God in prayer?
Many times we wanted to pray, plead our case and release our setbacks into comeback but our lives don’t measure up like Job’s.
What to do?
Turn to your Advocate, Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:1 – But if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Despite the blamelessness, Job still recognized his need of this advocate and he referred to him too in Job 16:19 – “Even now my witness in heaven; my advocate is on high.”
E.g. Ron Dunn wrote a book called “Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something!” He tells us what he learned at the end of a very bad day. When he got up, he didn’t spend time praying. As the day wore on, he was mean in the way he treated people. When the day finally ended, he knelt to pray and began by saying, “Lord, I’ve made a mess of my life today and I confess I’m not worthy to come into your presence.” At that point he felt the Lord interrupt his prayer. “Ron, do you think having a quiet time this morning would have made you worthy to talk to me? Do you think doing good and treating people right would have somehow made you qualified to come into my presence? If that’s what you think, you don’t know yourself, you don’t know me, and you don’t understand the grace of God.” Most of the time that is exactly how we think. It is so easy for all of us to believe that our good works somehow commend us to God, that if we’ll just “be good”, God is more likely to hear our prayers. But to think like that is to deny the gospel itself. WE ARE ACCEPTED BY GOD ONLY ON THE BASIS OF WHAT JESUS CHRIST HAS DONE. How dare we wave the tattered rags of a quiet time and think that somehow that makes a difference in heaven. I’m all for having a quiet time and all for treating people right and totally on the side of living for the Lord, but all of that cannot add even a tiny sliver to our acceptance before God. It is either all by grace or not by grace at all. BECAUSE JESUS KNOWS HOW SINFUL WE REALLY ARE, WE DON’T HAVE TO PLAY GAMES WHEN WE PRAY. We can come to God just the way we are, clinging only to the cross and claiming nothing but the blood of Jesus as our own hope of being accepted when we pray.”
Many times when setback hit our lives, we shrink back from God in prayer. Worse is when we have not been living the life God has called us to. When that happens, still pray – but pray with Christ as your Advocate. Offer your prayer in the name and the blood of Christ. He has already paid for your sins.
The prayer that really prevails before God is the prayer that honors the great redemptive truth of the New Covenant – that we are new creatures in Jesus Christ. Because of our relationship with Jesus, the Righteous One, we are righteous, and we have the right to come boldly to the throne of grace in order to obtain mercy and grace in time of need.
E.g. Gary Olson was a former elder of a church in Oak Park, Illinois and in April 1998 he made a speech in a tape. For many years, he was the head football coach at Oak Park-River Forest High School. Eight months before he made a speech, he had a heart surgery in 1997 and a year and a half before his sudden death in November 1999. On the tape, Gary is giving a short talk to a group of Christian coaches in Springfield on the subject of handling set backs of life. He began by mentioning his lung cancer in the early 1980s that led to his coming to Christ. Then in 1989 his wife Dawn was in a terrible accident that nearly took her life. Gary stepped down from coaching for a while so he could help her. The hardest setback came in 1997. In August of that year he collapsed during football practice and was taken to the hospital where the doctors discovered he had an enlarged heart. A few days later he had surgery to replace a defective heart valve. A month or so later his mother suddenly died of brain hemorrhage. It seemed almost too much to bear. On the tape he said that he had called his pastor and asked, “How should I pray?” His pastor told him to pray, “Lord, have mercy. God, have mercy. Jesus, have mercy.” There are many times in life when the only thing we can do is to cry out, “God, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Jesus, have mercy.” When we pray like, we will find the mercy we need from God as Hebrews 4:16 promises – “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Prevailing prayer comes from the calm, sensible acceptance of the fact that we are the righteousness of God, not from arrogance or pride. Prayer that is based on your right to be in the presence of God in Christ’s name makes tremendous power available – to meet your needs and walk in victory in your personal life.
E.g. During the dark days of the American Revolution, when the continental Army had experienced several setbacks, a farmer who lived near the battlefield approached Washington’s camp unheard. Suddenly he heard an earnest voice rose in agonizing prayer. Coming nearer he saw it was General Washington, down on his knees in the snow, his cheeks wet with tears, asking God for assistance and guidance. The farmer crept away and returned back to his home. He said to his family, “It’s going to be all right. We’re going to win!” “What makes you think so?” His wife asked. “Well, I heard General Washington pray out in the woods today…such fervent prayer I have never heard. And God will surely hear and answer that kind of praying.” The farmer was right then and he is right now.
James 4:7-10 (Msg) – So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. HIT BOTTOM AND CRY YOUR EYES OUT. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES BEFORE YOUR MASTER; IT’S THE ONLY WAY YOU’LL GET ON YOUR FEET.
Today, if you have hit bottom due to a setback, cry your eyes out. Get down on your knees before your master for it is the only way you will get on your feet!
3. Always wait on God
Job 13:15 (Amp) –[I do it because, though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him]
Job knew that he didn’t understand it all. Therefore he waited and placed his eyes on God (Job 42:5).
(IV) JOB-HIS COMEBACK
After trusting, praying and waiting for God, Job finally saw that all these setbacks happened not because of his sins, and not because of all the things he was accused of by his friends. He came to understand that all of these happened for the glory of God! If we could ever get a handle on that it would help us greatly. All of life is about God getting His glory from us.
The story of Job ended with God restoring to Job better things that were lost through the setbacks. In fact God restored double fold to Job for all that he had lost during his setbacks.
Yes! God can give you better things than those you might have lost or are worried over losing!
We are told that in the end Job and his wife had 10 more children. Three of them were daughters.
Job 42:13-14- He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah; and the name of the second Keziah; and the name of the third Keren-happuch.
Here, we are told of the names of the daughters of Job. The names of Job gave to these girls revealed the condition of his heart:
Meaning DAY or DOVE.
This name indicates that God had given Job DAY in place of his night and PEACE (=Dove) in place of his turmoil.
This is actually another spelling for the word CASSIA.
When the wise men brought their gifts to the infant Jesus, they brought gifts of cassia, aloes and myrrh, all of which were fragrances and incenses that were expensive rare and beautiful.
Cassia is incense or A FRAGRANCE.
This indicates that God had replaced Job’s sorrow with the sweet fragrant smell of His grace.
This literally means “the horn of antimony or box of eye-paint”. Antimony is a substance that was formerly used as an eye cosmetic (eye-shadow). A hollowed animal horn could have been used to store this material.
This word is a reference to the outward beauty that comes from an inward character. This word is also used to refer to Moses when he came off the mountain with his face aglow with the glow of God.
It refers to GLORY OR BRIGHTNESS. The idea here is that Job is praising God for the fact that God has replaced his wretchedness with glory.
What are your setbacks today? What are you losing? What have you lost? You have not lost anything as much as Christ the Son of God who had lost his life for us because of our sins. His greatest setback was our sins which led to his death on the cross. But God the Holy Spirit resurrected him on the third day, making it the greatest comeback for our Savior and Lord. Because of this grandiose comeback, we are able to also turn any of our setback into a comeback like Jesus, provided we link ourselves to him in our faith, prayer and patience before our Heavenly Father. Jesus trusted God without wavering even at the point of death. God literally slew Jesus but Jesus still believed that God could raise him back. Jesus had to hit rock bottom in Hades for three days and three nights before he could come back alive. Jesus was willing to undergo the process of going down first before you can go up. And during the whole ordeal of his death, Jesus kept praying to God. And when he came back, He became our Jemima (Light and peace), our Kezia (our fragrance of grace) and our Keren-Happuch (our glory and brightness). Praise God.
Regardless of how dismal and dark your setbacks are, Jesus is always there with you as you travel through. Trust God and He will allow you to taste the sweetness of victory.
Job places his unwavering trust in God during the most difficult setbacks of his life. We must cling to God even when we cannot find comfort from him.
We have looked at three lessons from Job 13:15 that can help us turn our greatest setbacks into our greatest comebacks:
a. Always trust in God
b. Always pray to God
c. Always wait for God
Illustration: A.B.R Lakin – A famous evangelist told this story about setback: “I watched some stone workers hewing an odd-shaped stone as it lay on the ground. “What are you going to do with that?” I asked. “We are cutting it here, so it will fit in up there,” the worker answered, pointing to an opening high on the tower of the great building.”
In our setbacks down here, God is shaping and fashioning us according to His omniscient design, so we will fit in up there.
Poem: “Though He slay me, I will trust Him,”
Said the sainted Job of old;
“Though He try me in the furnace,
I shall come forth as gold.”
“Though the ‘worms of deep affliction’
Cause this body to decay,
In my flesh I shall behold Him-
My Redeemer – some glad day.”
“Though He slay me”- can I say it
When I feel the searing fire,
When my fondest dreams lie shattered –
Gone my hope and fond desire?”
“Though he slay me, I will trust Him,”
For He knows just how to mold,
How to melt and shape my spirit
I shall then come forth as gold.”
PREACHED AT ETAB 1ST ENG SV ON 30 AUG 2015