Is it possible to experience PUSH BACK and not be “set back”?
YES! We finally experience the breakthrough we’ve been praying for, and then comes…the PUSH BACK! We should’ve expected it, right? Shouldn’t we know there’s a Red Sea after the Egypt victory strut? The thief always comes to see if the seed can be stolen. Around every promise a new Goliath bullies progress. We sniff victory. We can glimpse the promise ahead…and then, the opposition pushes back. Just when we’re running faster and gaining momentum, the big foot of difficulty trips us up.
2 Corinthians 4:8 – “We are pressed in every way, but not crushed.”
Recently, I’ve have seen some huge breakthroughs and miracles this summer. God always does astonishing things during youth camps, missions trips and the annual LTS course we have every summer.
One breakthrough was with an inspiring lady in our church who adopted a special needs child about 15 years ago. The little girl had been neglected and abused, but this amazing couple opened their big hearts to give her a home and the love she deserved. It’s been a roller coaster throughout the years caring for her and trying to understand her needs. This year a new faith rose up in their hearts to see a breakthrough. They believed God’s purpose for her was greater than confusion and anger, and started actively asking God to bring healing and peace–and He moved! We were seeing God do remarkable things. The angry outbursts lessened, she started enjoying worship and coming to church, she was making friends and getting along with the other people in her home. They were standing up against the limits. PROGRESS…MOMENTUM. Slow, but steady…AND THEN, the PUSH BACK. An unforeseen traumatic event occurred that caused her to regress.
Sadly, I’ve heard this story of opposition many times this month…
- A mentor and friend made huge strides through a surgery…and then the push back came, which caused her to end up in the hospital again.
- A couple made huge progress in their relationships and then…PUSH BACK, a massive fight.
- People testified about financial miracles and how God had blessed them with two cars for the first time in their life…PUSH BACK, a lay off and car accident.
- My husband was making huge strides in his health. He met the sunrise for his morning run every day, organized a connect group to run and encourage others and ended the day with push ups and sit ups. He made huge progress and then…the PUSH BACK! He developed bursitis in his hip to the point that he needed a wheelchair to help him off the plane in Canada last week.
There’s only one word to describe the initial feeling that comes with the push back…FRUSTRATION!
Frustration = the feeling of being upset or annoyed especially because of inability to change or achieve something; prevention of progress, success or fulfillment (Oxford dictionary)
Deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfilled needs. (Webster’s)
Frustration exists when progress toward a desired goal is blocked. Frustration is a threat to one’s feelings of adequacy and can be an obstacle to reaching a goal…How we REACT to frustration determines in large extent whether or not we reach the desired goals. (Understanding Human Behavior)
That frustration arises because we see the potential in front of us. We know we are capable. We’ve seen the possibility, tasted the reality and then suddenly…the rug is pulled out from under us in an attempt to stop us. Frustration makes it clear the potential is there, but annoys because it’s not realized. Is there a way to harness the power of the push back to actually thrust us forward?
Three Things to Harness the Power of the Push Back:
- Don’t doubt God’s goodness. It is always the enemy’s ploy to twist the plot, and despise the hand that helps us. In all of life’s opposition and obstacles, we cannot let our hearts be torn from our refuge and rescue. Whenever those lies start to invade our mind, we have to take them captive. Thoughts like, “Does God really love me? Why would He let this happen?” Voices determine choices. In times of struggle, we have to hear God’s voice closer and louder than the lies and doubts of the enemy. (In times like this, who we hang around is crucial. Are they feeding my frustration or feeding my faith?) Dr. Graham Catto always reminds us during the LTS course how, “We only feel the resistance of the wind when we stand up against it, if we’re just lying down we don’t feel the opposition.” If you’re swimming upstream, yes–you’ll feel the push back of the opposition, but don’t blame God for it! He is there to guide you and give you strength. Psalm 118:13, “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.”
- Push back in the opposite spirit. We’re not going to quit and go home. There’s more to us than that. We win if we don’t quit–because He has already won the war! As 2 Corinthians 4 vs. 7 says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” We don’t fight back in natural strength or in logic and reason. We don’t counter back with attacks that resemble the enemy’s–revenge, anger and pride. We fight with supernatural strength that opposing doubt with faith, depression with hope and disappointment with grace. As chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians continues, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Maybe you’re on the sofa recovering physically today, but your spirit can soar in His strength. Many theologians believe that we place the wrong emphasis on the phrase “like a flood” in Isaiah 59:19. We are used to hearing, “When the enemy comes in like a flood (meaning the enemy is overwhelming with a huge PUSH BACK), the Lord will raise up a standard against it.” While this is a great promise of the Lord’s response to the enemy’s attacks, many theologians believe it is better translated like the Amplified and many other versions read. It places the emphasis on the LORD being the FLOOD that will push back on the enemy! Picture a tsunami. His strength makes the enemy’s PUSH BACK attempts look small. Praise can unlock this strength. (Psalm 118:14-16)
So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun. For He will come in like a narrow, rushing stream, Which the breath of the drives (overwhelming the enemy). Isaiah 59:19 (Amplified Bible)
3. Let the push back be your sling shot. Without Goliath there was no David. Without Pharaoh, who would Moses be? There are no great stories without an antagonist. There are no great victories without PUSH BACKS to overcome. God uses our enemies to reveal his glory. The resistance grows our faith muscles. The opposition makes us stronger.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 Message
Let the PUSH BACK cause your TAKE OFF!
If you google “push back,” you’ll see another popular way of using this phrase. When a loaded aircraft is ready for take off, it has to be “pushed back” from the gate. A small tractor or “tug” pushes the several ton aircraft away from the terminal and toward the runway. You are like that 737 — packed with potential and ready to take flight and see the places and faces of your calling. If we can change how we see our obstacles, we can let the PUSH BACK propel us to our destiny, instead of setting us back in frustration. Maybe instead of setting us back, God’s purpose all along was to “set us up”.
We are ready for take off. Come on, push back!