I remember when the Holy Spirit spoke those words to me some years ago. I had just taken a devastating blow—a one-two (three-four) punch from the enemy. It sent me reeling with a spinning head and wobbling legs.
Let’s just say I never saw it coming.
But when the Holy Spirit spoke those eight simple words to me it broke the spiritual oppression that was trying to settle on my soul. I suddenly had an all new—more hopeful—perspective. Instead of focusing on my immediate past, I began to immediately look for the next step in God’s good plan for my future.
Have you encountered a setback lately? Something unexpected that spoiled your plans and disappointed your heart? It could be a failed relationship, a broken dream, a financial calamity, a health issue. Beloved, see this setback for what it is. Setbacks are delays. Setbacks are hindrances. But setbacks are not necessarily failures. You did not fail because you encountered defeat. You only fail when you choose not to get back up and keep going. It’s just a setback. It’s not your future.
I like to put it this way: A setback is a form of feedback. In other words, when you encounter a setback it should cause you to stop and assess your situation. How did you come to this point? Could you have done something differently? How should you respond now? Stop, look, listen and learn from the Holy Spirit and you will find wisdom that will help you avoid similar setbacks in the future God has for you.
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, once said: “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
There are countless books on great men and women who faced setbacks on their way to realizing their dreams. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Setback. Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times to invent the light bulb before he found success. Setback. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for not being creative enough. Setback. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. Setback.
Despite the setbacks—all of them rather humiliating—each went on to make their mark on modern history. None of these men allowed their setbacks to become their future. Instead, they turned their mistakes into a coach. Imagine if they hadn’t. Beloved, you have something to contribute to the world. Don’t let your setbacks define your future.
I’ve seen my fair share of setbacks—and then some. One was a financial devastation. I had an enviable gig with a major broadcaster running editorial operations on a popular small business website. I was riding high, making the big bucks, and sure that my future was bright.
Then it happened. The dot-com bubble burst and the contract vanished in the twinkling of an eye. All of my proverbial eggs were in a single basket. Setback.
I had two choices: recover or starve. I didn’t have time to wallow in the shock. I had to let the mistake of putting all my eggs in one basket become a coach. It taught me the value of diversification. Instead of one revenue stream, I now have multiple revenue streams from various sources so that if one bubbling brook dries up there’s another to keep the finances flowing freely.
You may never face anything as devastating as divorce or job loss, but even minor setbacks can derail you if you don’t keep the right perspective. How do you recover? Again, remember that it’s just a setback. It’s not your future. American author Les Brown once said, “Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead.” And Harry S. Truman said, “I’ve had a few setbacks in my life, but I never gave up.”
I’ve have plenty of setbacks in my life—from abandonment and divorce to betrayal and imprisonment. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). I would have given up if I hadn’t embraced the fact that the setbacks were just that—setbacks. It’s just a setback. It’s not your future.
So stop focusing on the past—even if the past was this morning—and focus on Him. Paul the apostle faced setbacks. But he pressed on to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of him and he did it by looking ahead: “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind” (Phil. 3:13-15).
So remember, it’s just a setback. It’s not your future. God is still on the throne. Amen.
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including Breakthrough!. You can e-mail Jennifer at