by Babbie Mason
Once while doing some housekeeping, I spotted a rubber band lying on the floor. When I picked it up, the kid in me emerged, so I pulled back on the elastic band and shot it. Just then, the Holy Spirit prompted me to engage in an exercise I now call "rubber bandology," or the study of the rubber band. When I pulled back gently on the band and released it to the air, it didn't go very far. I picked it up again. Only this time, I pulled back a little harder, applying more pressure on the band. When I released it, it flew out in front of me a little farther. Once more, I picked it up. This time I pulled back as far as I could, stretching it to the limit, without breaking it. When I released the rubber band, it lofted high into the air and went sailing across the room.
The Lord reminded me that to the degree that life's situations pull on my patience, put pressure on my finances, push against my marriage, stress my health, and stretch my faith to the limit—to that same degree and more—I will be launched into the next season of greatness in my life. The process may be uncomfortable. It may even be painful. But God is faithful.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. God loves us so much that He always causes our challenges to work for us, not against us. In Christ, what may appear to be a setback is not a setback at all. It is a setup for a comeback! Every challenge is a launching pad for success. It's another opportunity to experience God's power in your life!
So, what's the process? How do we come back strong after a setback? How do we stage the big comeback? The first step in the process, after being knocked down, is simply to get up. Don't wallow in the mire and throw a pity party. No one will come to join you anyway. People just don't want to come to pity parties. Don't put on the cloak of guilt. That's one little black dress you don't even need to try on. Don't become paralyzed by fear. Realize what's happening, and look it square in the face. Self-pity, guilt, and fear are arrows that the enemy uses to wound your spirit and render you ineffective.
Self-pity, guilt, and fear can disable you. Remember that Satan is the great accuser. In our devotion on Day 5, when we discussed the woman caught in the act of adultery, we remembered that the Pharisees had brought her to Christ. He dismissed her accusers with a challenge for the one who was without sin to "first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7b). Then He turned to the woman and reaffirmed her. Jesus did not condemn this woman, pronouncing her guilty or inflicting severe punishment on her. He simply said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (v. 11). Jesus exhorted her to get on with her life and stop the destructive behavior.
Many times, God's loving forgiveness allows us to forgive ourselves.
There are times when our suffering is self-inflicted by sin in our lives. We develop a pattern of disobedience, and the consequences of our behavior cause anguish, leaving us with a tremendous burden of guilt. You can't make a big comeback dragging a load of guilt behind you.
Once after an outpatient surgical procedure, when the local anesthesia had worn off, I found myself in excruciating pain. If I could have ranked the pain on a scale from 1 to 10, it would have registered 101. The pain was so great I envisioned the very face of death peering over the foot of my bed. To top it off, I heard a hideous, heckling voice say, "You can trust God with your family, and you can trust God with your finances, but you can't trust Him with this, can you?"
I had maxed out on pain medication. My gown and bed sheets were soaked with pain-induced perspiration. I literally thought I would die. I had no place to go but to my knees, so I rolled out of bed and called on the Lord. And He heard my cry. The pain subsided, and I drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
Some folks would say the pain medication finally took effect. But I say I called on the Lord, and He heard my cry. My suffering had become an occasion for God to be glorified. For every believer, there will be times God entrusts us with suffering so that we will be found faithful to Him. In our faithfulness, God is glorified.