You Can Begin Again: Turning Your Setback into a Comeback - Guest Speaker Stephen Trammell
Updated: Apr 20
January 31, 2021
We are so grateful to Guest Pastor Stephen Trammell for stepping in and providing such an inspirational sermon today. We hope you were blessed by his personal story of how he came to pursue God...and his teaching on how each of us can begin again. Whatever you may be going through, know that God is positioning you in the midst of your setback for a comeback. Here are 3 essentials for turning your setback into a comeback: 1. Take time to grieve your losses 2. Pursue God's comfort and wisdom 3. Walk in the light God gives you Instead of asking "why" ask "what" - "God, what do you want to do in me?" Remember that while you are waiting for an answer, God is working. Scriptures to study: 1 Samuel 30 Philippians 1:6 Romans 8:28-29
Watch Sunday's service on-demand. And be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
And to continue this series “You Can Begin Again”, I ask you to turn with me to I Samuel chapter 30. When I was growing up in Alexandria, Louisiana, my brother and I, during high school got into jet skis. And I mean, not the four-wheeler on water like a Seadoo but more like a motorcycle on water where you stand up. Whenever you stand up the handlebars come up with you or you can kneel down, and go really fast. We had high performance jet skis and we raced jet skis. On February 23, 1986. I was a junior in high school, and we'd gone out to Buhlow Lake to go jet skiing. It was very cold as you can imagine in February, and my brother got on his jet ski and went toward the train bridge pretty far away. I get all my jet ski went about halfway to the turnaround and was coming back toward the boat launch to where friends were. And I wasn't quite ready to get wet yet and get cold. But then I got my nerve up and I was like, Well, I'm going to turn and go back and meet my brother, not knowing that he had gotten down in his jet ski and was coming up behind me going about 65 miles an hour. And I turned into his lane, and bam, we collided. Miracle number one: a state trooper was up at the way station watching us ride jet skis. He saw the accident and radioed for help. Miracle number two: We were at Buhlow Lake and not at Kincaid Lake, which was further away. And so, we were close to the hospital. And within minutes I heard sirens which used to terrify me; became like music to my ears. Another miracle was a man was trying out a boat to buy from his neighbor that day. And that man came to where I was dying in the water and pulled me up into his boat and ran his boat up on the land, by the boat launch. This big paramedic gets out to save my life. My brother is terrified because he sees that I'm dying but doesn't know what to do. They rushed me to the hospital. My mother meets us there. One of our deacons from our home church, who happened to be our family doctor, was there and he actually was the one who rushed me into surgery. I had emergency surgery, and then I woke up in the intensive care unit, fighting for my life as a 16-year-old high school boy. That's called a setback, that's called a devastating experience. But I've come to Bear Creek Baptist Church on this beautiful Lord's day to say to you that God specializes in setbacks. In fact, God can take a setback in your life, and He’s actually positioning you for a comeback. Because where Satan puts a period, God puts a comma. And God always has the final say. And God took that tragedy in my life as a junior in high school, which was a major setback and through that experience, God called me to preach. I wanted to be an architect and build great buildings for God. But God was calling me to preach and to build people for eternity. And through that same experience, God called my brother to be a paramedic. So, He’s saving lives on earth while I'm saving lives for eternity. And we're working together. And I want you to know, guess who his first partner was when he became an EMT? Big Rick who saved my life. Guess whose wedding was the first wedding I officiated after surrendering to preach, big Rick, the one who saved my life. So, God can take a set back and position you for a comeback, because God always has the final say. Now, the reality is, we'll have many setbacks along the way. I wish I could say that February 23, 1986, at 2:20pm was my last setback I've had many since then. But I've also had many comebacks, because that's who God is.
Look now in First Samuel chapter 30. Maybe you would say, Pastor Steven, I'm in a setback, I'm in that season you're describing, I'm going through a difficult season. Maybe it's financial, maybe you've lost your job, maybe it's relational, where there's a strained relationship in the family tree, maybe it's related to your marriage, maybe it's related to a health crisis that you're navigating. Maybe it's related to COVID in this global pandemic. Whatever it is that you're going through, maybe for you, this is your setback. And I want to encourage you this morning, that God is positioning you in the midst of your setback for comeback. Let's read about it. We're going to look this morning at how to turn your setback into a comeback and some principles. from God's word. I'm going to give you three essentials that I want you to write down or text or you can take out lipstick and just write it on somebody’s arm, whatever you need to do to write this down.
Here's the essential number one:
Take time to grieve your losses.. We're going to pick up now in I Samuel 30, verses three and four.
“And when David and his man came to the city, they found it burned with fire. And their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep.” I Samuel 30:3-4
Now we would call this a setback. Remember, David was chosen by God through Samuel to be the future king of Israel. He had already been chosen, but not installed. He had already experienced the defeat of Goliath. We know him as a warrior. And yet, after coming home from war with 600 warriors, they come back to Ziklag, and they experienced devastation, loss, the town burned, their families kidnapped, and they're at this low point. And this is what we would call a major setback, a devastating experience. And you know, it's bad when 600 warriors wept until they had no more strength to weep, but it gets worse.
Look at verse six.
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him…”
Now we're not talking about what is legal in Colorado stoning. We're talking about real stones being tossed at real people; and they wanted to kill David, because all the people were bitter in their souls for their sons and daughters. I want to challenge you this morning and your journey. Take time for the pain. What is it about our human condition, we don't like pain, we do everything we can to avoid pain? We try to bypass pain, or we try to self-medicate. And I know that's my challenge. Whenever I'm stressed out or dealing with pain or walking through a difficult season, there's a go- to, it's a very faithful go to something that I go to. And I have to battle this and whenever I go to it, it's the same thing every time; I take three scoops of Bluebell ice cream. I don't know if you've ever experienced that. But it just ministered to you. It makes everything better, everything looks better, everything feels better. But as you know, it's very temporary. It takes you on that sugar high but what comes after the sugar high, is the sugar crash. And then you have to face the reality of a setback. And we try to bypass pain, but I want you to know this morning, God uses pain. If somehow we can get to the place in our journey where we start just simply taking time for the pain. One thing I've been learning recently is that grieving is part of the cleansing process. God is using pain in our lives. And we try to master pain management. But we've got to learn how to grieve. We've got to learn how to grieve our losses and, and it's okay to get to the place where you name your pain, instead of running from it, just go into it and say, this is where I am. This is why I am hurting, this is why I'm broken. And if you can get to the place, if I can get to the place where we just get real, about how we feel. Can I make an announcement? God can handle how you really feel. Maybe you feel disconnected, maybe you feel dislodged, maybe for you in this current season, you feel like you've been derailed, or maybe like David, devastated. Learn to grieve your losses; name, the pain, and take time, for the pain.
Here's essential number two: Pursue God's comfort and wisdom. If you've ever needed God before, it's when you face a setback, if you've ever needed God to come through, it's when you are in transition, pursue God's comfort and wisdom. And I want to encourage you in this. Instead of asking why; Why did this happen? God, why did you allow this to happen? What if you ask What? What? Let me give you those two questions. First of all,, God, What do you want to do in me? Instead of asking why are you allowing this to happen to me, ask God, what do you want to do in me? And we see that so clearly here in David's life. Look at verse six. “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” In other words, he just went to God. And he got real before the Lord and strengthened himself in the Lord. This sounds like Hebrews 4: 16. “Let us then with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace.” Now what do we do when there's pain, we'd like to draw away, we'd like to run from pain. Yet it says, “Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” So, you have a choice to make. When you face a setback, when you're in transition, when you're going through a difficult season of adversity, you can either move into what's called isolation. You know what that is, that's a tool of the enemy, to get you disconnected, to get you dislodged to get you out of community with other people to make you feel like you're the only one going through it, it makes me want to come back here and play the drums. Is that legal during a message to play the drums? See, I can come back here, and I feel like well, there's Plexiglas and, and I can hide behind the plexiglass. This is my own little world. And you know that we'd like to control our own world. And I believe that's why so many people feel called to be a drummer, because they control the beat, they can control the rhythm. But can I let you know that most of life is not like playing the drums. It's not a controlled environment. Life is like a journey. And it's filled with adversity, difficulties, and mountaintops and valleys. And you'll be between a rock and a hard place. And you'll have seasons where everything's clear, and the sun is shining brightly. And then there are days where there's a fog. And that's when you have to ask, God what do you want to do in me?
The second question is God, what do you want to do through me? So, I'm going to move from isolation, and draw near to God and say, God, what do you want to do in me? God is so committed to molding you and shaping you and building you into the person that God has created you to be. And God will use pain. God will use adversity; God will use silence. You go through seasons of silence that God I just need to hear from you. God, show me what's next. And God just wants us to trust Him and let Him do His work in us so that He can do his work through us. Look at verse eight, “And David inquired of the Lord”… I underlined that. “And David inquired of the Lord, shall I pursue after this band, shall I overtake them? He answered him, pursue you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” Now what I admire about David, is he went to God first. You know what we do most of the time in our lives, we go our own way. And as we're going, we say, God bless this decision, God, I'm going to go through that. Bless this open door, God, I pray that you will bless what I'm doing instead of us going to God and saying, God, what do you want to bless? What do you want me to do? So, God, what do you want to do in me? And what do you want to do through me? And here's the wonderful news. David did not pursue the enemy until he first pursued God and heard from God about pursuing the enemy. Draw near to God. God knows right where you are. Did you know the Bible says that God collects your tears in a bottle? That ministers to me. You know what we do when we cry when we have tears? Well, you take this finger right here, wipe it, and wipe it off on our leg. That's how we handle our tears. And then, of course, gracious ladies, they get a little Kleenex and they little dab, dab, dab, dab, and then they'll blow their nose, and they're not ashamed of it. Because they know how to deal with tears. You know what God does with your tears; He collects them in a bottle. You know why? Because he measures every tear, every pain, every delay, every difficulty you go through. God knows, God sees everything you advanced through. He sees everything you go through. And he collects your tears in a bottle. And I'm so thankful for this one, that God is a God of revelation, that God is a God who speaks. God is going to bring revelation, he's going to bring clarity. And we learned this from Henry Blackaby. When he went through experiencing God back in 1992, with six of our deacons in our seminary church, and I love this quote, God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways. God doesn't want to keep you in the dark, God wants to unveil His plan. Now, often, we want God to just tell us what to do, go two blocks, take a right and you'll see the building on the left of the flashing green light, go through the red door, that'll be open for you. And we want it to be mapped out like that. But that's not how God operates.
I have a son and daughter, you heard Pastor David mention, and my daughter is 27 and my son is 22, and just got married. And I remember when my daughter Tori was really young and took her on an Easter egg hunt, we used to do that pretty often in our churches. And, you know, the golden egg it’s all about the golden egg. And as a parent, you have the maturity to know where the golden egg is, and you want to lead your child to the golden egg. Now, what you don't want to do is break any rules. So, you're not going to say look, here's the golden egg, right there and you give it to them. That's a violation of the process. But a wise parent will say, well, let's walk over here. Come on over here a little bit. And as a parent, you're willing to open up some blades of grass to help them see what they couldn't see. Because they don't have your perspective. That's what it's like to walk with God is God, I'm going to trust you and God, show me where you are. I'm going to walk with you. And that God just bends a blade of grass says, go in this direction. Go in this direction, and you trust God's heart and you trust God's plan, because God's a God of revelation. So, you pursue God's comfort and wisdom.
Here it is essential number three:
Walk in the light God gives; you walk in the light God gives you. The way I like to say it is this way; walk in the light God gives you, as you obey, He will show you the way. So, obey what you know. Reminds me of the Nike commercial. Remember the swoosh and the tagline is: “Just do it”. That's the Nike commercial, just do it. And what God is saying is obey what you know. And some of you are wondering why God won't show you what's around the corner. God won't show you what's next. My question to you is have you obeyed what God has already revealed to you? If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, have you followed in baptism after your salvation? Maybe God's waiting for you to obey and such a simple item of obedience to show you what's next. Maybe God is waiting for you to forgive someone so he can unveil what's next. Maybe God wants you to walk through a certain door that you have been fearful of, and as you walk through that door, God will illuminate what's next for you. As you obey, God will show you the way.
What's so interesting here in our passage, David pursued the enemy. But he pursued them with a 33% reduction in manpower. This reminds us that God is not limited by our limitations, God can handle your limitations. Look at verse nine. So, David's set out and the 600 men who were with him and they came to the brook, Besor, and were there those who were left behind stayed, but David pursued, he and not 600 men, but 400 men, and 200 stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor. And notice how David was sensitive to God's activity. Now this, this is so powerful in the story. I'm not going to read it, it's too long. Let me just tell it to you. They discovered an Egyptian, who is a servant to an Amalekite master. The Egyptian had gotten sick. So, the master left him behind, three days and three nights without food or drink. So, David's men come upon this Egyptian, they bring the Egyptian to David, they gave him water food, some nourishment to try to revive him. And then David engages him in conversation and come to find out, this Egyptian was part of the band that destroyed the city and kidnapped the families. But his master left him behind. And as David inquired of this Egyptian, the Egyptian said, “I'll show you where they are, if you'll preserve my life”. Now don't miss this. Sometimes God will show you what's next in the most obscure ways. You want God to write it on the wall or God, if you'll just get an airplane to go write it in the sky. Sometimes, God will bring you His next step through the most obscure places and people. Are you sensitive to God's activity? Are you willing to let God be a God of revelation and come to where you are and meet you at your point of need? And then David joined God in His activity, starting in verse 17:
"And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped except for 400 young men who mounted camels and fled. David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken. And David rescued his two wives, nothing was missing, whether small or great sons or daughters spoil or anything that had been taken, (don't miss this last phrase,) David brought back all,” I Samuel 30:17-19
He was sensitive to God's activity. And then he was willing to join God in His activity. So often we let fear paralyze us. And sometimes if we're honest before the Lord, it's the fear of the unknown. Do you remember whenever you're trying to talk someone into jumping off a high diving board? Because you did it, and you want them to experience the adventure. And they climb up the top of that high diving board and they slowly walk to the end holding the rails and they get near the end. What do they normally do with their toes? They curl them over the edge. You've heard of people white knuckling in church holding on to the chairs in front of them. Why white knuckling? Why: because of fear, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of taking that leap. When God is saying, walk in the light I give you; I'm going to illuminate the path I want you to take. And I want you to trust me. And even in those seasons when you let go of God, He doesn't let go of you. That God loves you so much that He pursues you. Even when you drift far from God, He welcomes you back home. Are you willing to walk in the light God gives you? Maybe for you the light God's giving you right now is that there's something in your life you need to lay down; maybe there's an Isaac in your life that's robbing your fellowship with God and you’re to place your Isaac on the altar. Maybe for you, it's been all about you. Your life and your agenda, your happiness and your purpose, instead of God, what do you want to do in me? God, what do you want to do through me? And something Tonya and I pray together often is, Lord, we place our Yes, on the altar. You know what that means? God, whatever you want the answer is, yes. The answer is yes. Are you willing to walk in the light God gives you? And as you obey God, He will show you the way. And He’ll take you from faith to faith, He'll bring you to a place of clarity. And then sometimes you experience ambiguity again, and you see it as a setback. But God is really positioning you for a comeback. The Bible says, even the hairs upon your head are numbered. Now, for some men, that's not a big deal. But for some men, that's a lot, that’s a big deal. You know, what's a big deal; is that God cares about every detail of your life? You know what He wants more than anything, He just want you to come to Him.
In January, on January 3, the one of the highest honors of my life was officiating the wedding for my son, who's a senior and plays football for Rice University. And he married Katie, who's now our daughter- in- law. It was such a sacred moment to hear them say I do and commit their lives to one another. And they exchanged rings. But you know, a ring doesn't make you married. It's the covenant relationship that you're entering in before God, and with each other. And the same is true of your walk with God. You come to Jesus by placing your faith in Jesus alone for salvation, and you're married into the family of God, literally adopted into God's forever family. That's a grace gift. And for some of you this morning, you want God to work in your life, you want to have peace with God, you want to have eternal security, but you've never turned from sin, and trusted in Jesus alone for salvation. So, that's your next step. When I was seven years of age, my mother and dad divorced, my dad had become a severe alcoholic, and that alcohol took over his life. He turned to alcohol for his pain management. And it literally consumed him. He became violent. And my mother had to draw the line in the sand to protect the sanctity of our home. And that pain led me to search for a father who had never let me down. And that's when I came to faith in Jesus Christ. And remember, his words that Jesus said, “I'm the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” And I've turned from my sin, and I've trusted in Jesus alone for salvation. And in that moment, I became a child of God, and my brokenness, in my pain, I became a child of God. And God makes it available to you. When I was a teenager, I had to go through this season of wanting my mother to remarry and my brothers and I say, Mom, you need to remarry, you need to remarry. God did a work on me to say, “Stephen, your mother's value is not based on her marital status. Her values have already been established, in what I did 2000 years ago, on the cross. And I want to say that to you, your value has already been established. “So, you're not going to work your way up to God or impress God with your good works. The Bible says that on our best day, our righteousness is as filthy rags to a holy God. So, we have nothing to offer. That's why it's a great gift; that God has built the ultimate love bridge to us so that we can respond. By placing our faith in Jesus alone for salvation. I'm going to invite you to do that. Your next step for a comeback is to come to Jesus. That's your next step.