The Upside of Setbacks

American swimmer Dara Torres had a remarkable career, appearing in five different Olympics from 1984 to 2008. Late in her career, Torres broke the US record for the 50-meter freestyle—25 years after she herself set that record. But it wasn’t always medals and records. Torres also encountered obstacles in her athletic career: injuries, surgery, as well as being almost twice the age of most other competitors. She said, “I’ve wanted to win at everything, every day, since I was a kid. . . . I’m also aware that setbacks have an upside; they fuel new dreams.”

“Setbacks have an upside” is a great life lesson. Torres’s struggles motivated her to reach for new heights. They have a spiritual benefit too. As James said, “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Adopting this perspective on the difficulties of life is not easy, but it is worthwhile. Trials provide opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. They also provide the opening to learn lessons that success cannot teach by developing in us the kind of patience that waits on God and trusts Him for the strength to endure.

The psalmist reminds us, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).

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Verse of the Day – Psalm 79:9

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. — Psalm 79:9

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

We don’t deserve the grace we need! We have no right to presume God’s forgiveness! We have no reason to expect divine deliverance! But in Jesus, God has shown us his incredible love and generosity. We can confidently call out for his mercy and receive his grace, forgiveness, and deliverance — not because we deserve it, but because of who he is and for the sake of his glorious name.

My Prayer…

Holy and awesome God, I need your grace and forgiveness. I need your deliverance from the tempter’s snare. Without your power and mercy, I will surely fail. May the grace you extend to me bring you praise. May the forgiveness you lavish on me bring others to honor you. May your deliverance of me from the tempter’s snare bring glory to your name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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No Wonder!

“He’s perfect for you,” my friend told me. She was talking about a guy she had just met. She described his kind eyes, his kind smile, and his kind heart. When I met him I had to agree. Today he’s my husband, and no wonder I love him!

In the Song of Solomon the bride describes her lover. His love is better than wine and more fragrant than ointments. His name is sweeter than anything in this world. So she concludes that it’s no wonder he is loved.

But there is Someone far greater than any earthly loved one, Someone whose love is also better than wine. His love satisfies our every need. His “fragrance” is better than any perfume because when He gave Himself for us, His sacrifice became a sweet-smelling aroma to God (Eph. 5:2). Finally, His name is above every name (Phil. 2:9). No wonder we love Him!

It is a privilege to love Jesus. It is the best experience in life! Do we take the time to tell Him so? Do we express with words the beauty of our Savior? If we show His beauty with our lives, others will say, “No wonder you love Him!”

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Verse of the Day – Matthew 13:22

[Jesus said] “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” — Matthew 13:22

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

All sorts of things can distract us from Kingdom matters. The wear and tear of everyday life can make it hard to keep our spiritual focus. But in an affluent society, our desire for riches, our pursuit of material things, and our selfishness with wealth can entangle us in worry. Worry can stifle our faith. Eventually the fruitfulness of the Gospel is choked out and we lose our spiritual vitality. Our greatest riches are found in Jesus. If he is our priceless treasure and the Kingdom is our highest priority, then we can handle the other things that come our way.

My Prayer…

Gracious Father, please help me to faithfully use the blessings you have lavishly poured out upon me. Please don’t let me be deceived or owned by the things I possess, nor do I want to covet what I do not have. Give me an undivided heart about the matters of your Kingdom. Please bring to life in me the fruitfulness of a heart full of your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.

Heartlight is proud to promote Compassion International.

© 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. Verseoftheday.com is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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A Fishing Lesson

I was fishing quietly on the clear, still waters of Piatt Lake, casting next to a lush weedbed. I watched a large smallmouth bass sneak out of the thick vegetation to investigate. He approached the tempting night crawler on the end of my line, stared at it, and backed into the weeds. This happened several times until he spotted the hook. Then he whipped his tail and disappeared into his lair, never to come out again.

Satan dangles temptation, like a fishhook, right in front of us. It looks tasty. It promises gratification. But Satan’s power ends there. He cannot force us to take the hook. His power stops at the edge of our will—at our decision point. When we are warned by the Holy Spirit and decide to say no, Satan can do no more. James says he runs away (4:7).

As believers, we can receive great comfort from the words of the apostle Peter, who himself experienced great temptation (Matt. 26:33-35). In later life he wrote, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion . . . . Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Just as that big old bass ignored my hook, we can in God’s strength successfully resist Satan’s most enticing tactics!

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