By Scot Thigpen
In business, as in life, people experience setbacks along the way. Some are small and others are huge. They can be distractions or some can feel disastrously destructive. Some are hills and hurdles, and others are Himalayas. One thing seems certain—they do come.
I don’t see anywhere in the Scriptures where we are promised a smooth road and a bed of roses. “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials” is how the book of James begins. And, “the testing of our faith produces perseverance which leads to maturity and completeness.”
I wish I knew all the stories of these setbacks and the powerful personal witnesses to God’s faithfulness and goodness. This very publication shares many of those every month and those stories inspire and are testaments that God is indeed good.
I find that parts of the Exodus story provide insightful lessons in setbacks. I know they do for me and suspect that many people who have experienced setbacks can relate.
- GOD’S GLORY. That’s what it’s ultimately all about. God’s people left Egypt with material things but one of the first lessons is that they were for God’s glory in building the tabernacle. God uses our setbacks for his glory—somehow, some way.
- GOD’S MIGHTY HAND. Mentioned many times, the testimony of these same “mighty hands” working out our setbacks is profound. Again—if we only knew all these stories.
- GOD’S GREATER PURPOSE. When they left Egypt, God didn’t send them down the short road. Rather he led them down the long road. The long road setback is always for a greater purpose. How much perseverance can really be built on a short road anyway?
- GUIDANCE AND LIGHT. The Lord was always out in front of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them and a pillar of fire to light the way. Just the same, the Lord provides guidance and light through our setbacks if we will trust and follow him.
- GOD IS IN CONTROL. Pharaoh took his army, 600 of his best chariots, and all the other chariots in Egypt. Seemed like a powerful force was against them. God would render this apparent earthly power powerless against him. Good thing to remember who is in control.
- CRY OUT TO GOD. Israelites were terrified and cried out to God. Setbacks can feel terrifying. They were right to cry out to God rather than depend on their own abilities.
- STAND FIRM. In Exodus14:13, Moses tells the people to stand firm and they will see the deliverance of the Lord. Setbacks have a way of making us squirm. No time for sitting. No time for running or hiding. No time for weak knees. Stand firm when facing setbacks
- MOVE ON. Exodus14:15 shares when God does provide the way through the setback, you still have to walk through it. He is the one responsible for providing the way. Our responsibility is to move on.
- TRUST IN GOD. As a result of how they saw God provide the way, they feared him and put their trust in him.
- GOD IS GRACIOUS. It wasn’t long after that the people of God grumbled. How often this is true soon after God brings us through our setbacks. And how does he respond to our “grumblings”? He rained down bread from heaven on them. What a testimony to God’s goodness and graciousness. Who but God can love in that way? Nobody. And the good news of the gospel is that believers are empowered with that same love for others if we abide.
Are you facing a setback? I hope this part of my journey will help you on your journey. Do you know somebody facing a setback? Be that vessel of God’s love and hope that He alone can provide.
Do you have a setback story you would share? I would love to hear it and share it with others. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scot Thigpen is president of The Thigpen Group, a Wealth Advisory Firm in Jackson, MS. He is married to the former Kimberly Inkster and they are parents of two sons and attend Christ United Methodist Church. Contact Scot at email@example.com.