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The Joy of Setbacks

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The Joy of Setbacks

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But we all well know that this path of life is not completely linear. There are moments of ecstasy and triumph. But then there are times when we have setbacks, hardships or when we go backwards or sideways in life’s journey. That happens. Is it failure?

Absolutely not!

In fact, coping with adversity and setbacks that we will certainly face is essential for becoming successful. This is true in our personal life or in the collective life of the Church. Setbacks have a therapeutic effect on producing the inner tensile strength of character and resilience. In moments of adversity our true value and strength is shaped, defined and forged.

Racing through life without testing and by rising too quickly without trial can produce a person who becomes vulnerable to real-life circumstances. I once heard a commencement address by a well known television news commentator to an Ivy League graduating class. She told them to pray that they not rise too fast in their profession for this very reason. I have seen people who have risen too quickly and not having the character, tools and wisdom to meet life’s predictable challenges. Even in the ordination of elders, one of the prerequisites in 1 Timothy 3:6 1 Timothy 3:6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
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is that one should not be too new a person rising to this honored position: “Not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6-7 1 Timothy 3:6-7 [6] Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. [7] Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
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).

When asked what it would take to become one of His disciples, Jesus replied: “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27 Luke 14:27And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
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). The cross represents the trials and setbacks that one must face. In Jesus’ Olivet Prophecy about end-time events He confirms this: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13 Matthew 24:13But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
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).

A Christian’s life is characterized in several places in the book of Revelation as “overcoming.” One such passage is Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
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: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.” Overcoming is to be victorious. And that means to be faithful to Jesus Christ to the end, keeping that faith and that belief intact in spite of all the trials and temptations of this world. The “cross” of, for example, poor health, financial challenges, or broken relationships, will not deter your faithfulness to our Lord because we know that Christ will be faithful to us and deliver us as it is mentioned in the references in Revelation.

Jesus Himself set an example for us in suffering and enduring hardship for a greater purpose as described by the apostle Paul:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11 Philippians 2:5-11 [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. [9] Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: [10] That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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).

Jesus Christ divested His eternal state to become human and to die for mankind. Only through His suffering and death could you and I be redeemed and be granted forgiveness of our sins and then be given eternal life. Christ invested totally in this process, but it required His stepping down from the fullness of His divine state. That was a setback. That was His cross. But it resulted in the greatest gift that you and I and all mankind could receive. In the end He overcame and was victorious.

So take a closer look at the trials you may have to bear. Use disappointments, setbacks and trials to learn and grow. What can you take away from a setback? Is there something you can do differently? What part of the circumstances are you responsible for and how will you remedy them? Are you relying on Jesus Christ to help you overcome through prayer and asking for His guidance in His Word and active intervention in your trial?

Going “forward” as this column advocates often requires that we manage the “crosses” of life. The greatest achievements are molded in the crucible of adversity because that’s where you demonstrate your worth.

General George Patton is credited with  saying, “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” There’s truth in that as we go forward!