I have spent too much time in my life doubting, second guessing, hesitating, and lacking faith. Maybe you can relate.
So I love that we can have comebacks. In fact, God specializes in them. The cross is the ultimate comeback – Jesus actually came back to life – and it only took him 3 days. Comebacks don’t have to take a long time; God can work with the same power he used to raise Jesus from the dead to change our lives.
27 Jesus said, “The things that are impossible for people to do are possible for God to do.”
Luke 18:27 (GWT)
The key to having a spiritual comeback is focusing on what God can do, not what people can do. Focusing on what people can do leads only to unbelief and discouragement. Try opening your mind, eyes and heart and believing God can do anything – he can change any marriage, any sin, any kid, any problem with school or any trouble at work.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
You can go through defeats, but you don’t have to be defeated. How do you handle defeats? Do they freak you out and make you give up? Or do you respond to them, learn from them, and change?
See if you relate to any of these common “defeats”:
- School – dropping out, dropping class – feeling unable to finish the major you chose
- Dating – disappointment and bitterness taking over your heart
- Marriage – bitter, not talking to each other, hurt, distant, apathetic
- Lost love for God – greed or selfish ambition is stealing God’s place in your heart
- Emotional health – feeling defeated by anxiety or depression, and don’t know how to still have faith in the midst of these challenges.
Part of having a comeback is changing your mind – you’re not defeated, you’re just at half time. In sports, half time is when the team gets together, talks, makes adjustments, refocuses and then gets out there for the second half. Change your mind about the defeats you are facing – you are at half-time, not the end of the game.
To get some inspiration, consider some pretty incredible sports comebacks. In Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, Reggie Miller scored eight points in the final 18.7 seconds to beat the Knicks. The Red Sox overcame 3-0 series deficit to beat Yankees in the ALCS and would eventually win the 2004 World Series. In 1998 Kentucky took on top-seeded Duke in the NCAA South regional championship. Duke was up 19 points with 9 minutes to go – and Kentucky came back. They defeated Duke and went on to win the championship.
What if these teams had given up at half time? They would have missed out on incredible victory.
6 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Zechariah 8:6 (NLT)
The challenge with having a comeback is we have to believe even when things seem impossible, before everything works out. In what areas of your life do you need to start believing – even if they seem impossible right now?
Making a Comeback
So let’s look at 3 steps necessary to have a spiritual comeback:
1. Face the Facts
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
Romans 4:18-19 (NIV)
We can learn two important things from Abraham before he had his comeback – he had faith, and he faced the facts.
What facts do you need to face in your life? Face these facts with spiritual friends and with God – not by yourself. Facing facts alone can lead to regret and negativity, but with friends and God we can get faith and perspective.
Maybe you need to face the facts that you have allowed certain sins to own your life for too long. Or maybe that you lack character and are going to need more if you’re going to have a comeback. Maybe you need to face facts in your parenting and marriage. Facing facts is about owning and taking responsibility for sins like greed, impurity, bitterness, selfish ambition and godlessness. The point is not to just feel bad, but to be honest so that you have room to accept God’s help.
2. Defeat Doubt
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.
Romans 4:20-22 (NLT)
How much do you waver in believing God? Do you know God’s promises and take time to memorize them? Do you work each day at making your faith stronger?
When we are wavering, we start hesitating. We don’t have the faith to make decisions. Defeating doubt means “I believe God is able, so I take action.” Defeating doubt means you are making decisions and taking action; when you are struggling in school, you go talk to your professor and get help. You sit with someone to go through your class schedule and your homework load. Defeating doubt means you are willing to talk about dating and take input and try new things instead of being convinced nothing will work.
Defeating doubt means you try new ways to take on your emotional health challenges. It means you surround yourself with spiritual friends who will challenge you to believe. You build friendships where you challenge each other’s doubt and call each other higher.
Are you defeating doubt, or wavering through unbelief?
3. Come Up Strong
19-25 Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.”
Romans 4:19-25 (MSG)
Abraham plunged into God’s promises and come up strong. What does coming up strong look like for you? Maybe it means you are going to start studying the Bible and become a Christian. Maybe it means restoring your faith and deciding exactly what you need to take on to do so. Coming up strong means setting a goal and shooting for something. How can your family or marriage come up strong?
Maybe coming up strong means starting to help someone – helping someone date or get engaged, or helping someone study the Bible. Maybe it means helping younger parents if you’re an empty-nester. Decide what “coming up strong” will look like for you, and begin to make some practical decisions to go after that.