Surviving Setbacks The 3 R’s: Remember, Recite, Respond
Setbacks are a part of life, unfortunately. Setbacks are not a respecter of persons. All of us will face our own desert experiences. Sometimes these experiences are of our own making. We have plenty of examples of this in the Bible (e.g., Israelites, Samson, David). Other times those setbacks have an eternal purpose that we won’t understand until much later. Regardless of the reason, there are some truths we must embrace in order to survive our setbacks and navigate the wilderness experience.
Remember that the LORD your God is the only God and that He is faithful. He will keep his covenant and show his constant love to a thousand generations of those who love him and obey his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9 (GNT)
He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is! Deuteronomy 32:4 (NLT)
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)
God is Good. God is Faithful. God is Love. God is Perfect. God is Just. God is Sovereign.
When setbacks come or when we enter a time of “wondering” in the wilderness, it is human nature to question, to doubt, to resist the experience. Satan uses those human frailties to pull us away from our true source of strength and support. How can we survive our inevitable setbacks?
Practice the 3 R’s: Remember, Recite, Respond
REMEMBER. Grab a pen and paper (you may need a lot), and find a comfy chair. Take some time to jot down the times God has been faithful in your life. It could be as simple as protecting your travel on a long trip or as complex as restoring a loved one. Psalm 77 reminds us to remember the deeds of the Lord—His miracles, His works, His mighty deeds. Throughout the book of Numbers, the Israelites were told over and over to remember how God had delivered them from captivity and how He continued to provide for their needs. Remembering God’s faithfulness in our past helps us face our setbacks with confidence.
RECITE. Especially during setbacks, God’s Word becomes our lifeline. Jesus modeled this for us when he spent 40 days in the wilderness before his ministry officially began. Satan’s temptations could have yielded questions and doubts, but Jesus combated every statement with Scripture. We can do the same.
When we are frightened: Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB)
When we feel alone: Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 ESV
When we don’t understand: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (NIV)
When we feel unworthy: But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. I Peter 2:9 (NLT)
We have to be purposeful and ready to recite God’s Word at a moment’s notice.
· Set reminders on your phone.
· Save verses in your notes.
· Download an app on your phone for memory verses.
· Memorize Scripture.
Do whatever it takes!
RESPOND. The Christian walk is not passive. To survive setbacks requires action on our part. Many times it means forming new habits. In Jeremiah 29 we are told to call out to God and pray. Calling out to God through persistent prayer should be a staple in the Christian life. I have been a Christian for a long time, and I am ashamed to admit that I feel I am just now learning how important and critical prayer is. There is power in prayer, yet so many of us don’t pray until we have exhausted every other weapon in our arsenal. Prayer isn’t anything fancy. Just talk to God. Listen to God. We don’t have to make it so complicated.
Life is full of choices. How we choose to respond during setbacks will determine how God uses us in the future. Choose to remember who God is and His faithfulness. Choose to recite God’s Word to combat doubts. Choose to respond by calling out to God and trusting His plan.
One final thought—share your setback successes. If you know someone who is going through a tough time, let that person know there is hope. Share what worked for you. Offer to pray for that individual. God can use your setback as an encouragement to someone else. God wastes nothing.