April 21, 2022

How to Set the Setbacks Back

The Escalade driver seems oblivious to the red light — coming fast toward me in his black metal house on wheels.

I’m on the brick walkway crossing the intersection legally (for a change), during my regular morning walk.

He’s doesn’t slow fast enough.

I walk fast, but not fast enough to avoid impact.

Instinctively, I step sideways. Initiate evasive maneuvers.

My ankle rolls. I stagger…almost go down.

Recovering, I keep on. It hurts, but not too much. I walk across the lake bridge and back again, past the pothole that nearly laid me low. I hammer out another 3.5 miles.

At home, my foot and ankle start to hurt a bit. Two hours into my shift at work, it’s actual pain. I go home, go to my trusted podiatrist, get x-rays, get a giant boot to immobilize my ankle, and get booked for an MRI.

Don’t know yet if I broke it. Might have hairline fracture.

I do know I can’t walk my normal 4-6 miles daily. Last year I lost 35 pounds in 96 days largely by walking and eating somewhat better stuff. Great year, that rolled right into 2022 from one success to another. Now, I hobble about, awaiting my fate.

It’s a setback for my physical fitness.

The cost of the podiatrist, x-rays, boot, MRI & etc. combined with some one-time expenses that all hit at the same time, served as a gut-punch to my other great advance of the past year — my debt reduction plan. We’re making great progress paying off consumer debt and increasing our credit score.

Suddenly, a barrage of unexpected expenses piles on with the somewhat-expected bill from the IRS.

It’s a setback for my financial fitness.

I won’t kid you. It’s discouraging.

This morning, during my regular reading, journaling and prayer time, this thought arose:

“Lord, how do I set the setbacks back?”

I’m write this now, while it still weighs heavy on me. I write now for a reason.

Months from now, I want to come back and read this. I will then marvel at the way the Lord picked me up, provided all I needed, and saw me through a little valley that seems so deep at the moment.

Like the Dad with the mentally-tormented kid, who asked Jesus to heal him, I find myself saying, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

At times like this, I go into gratitude rehearsal.

I list what’s going right and thank God for it all.

I remember hard times past, and how He rescued me.

I tell Jesus I trust Him, even as the little voice in my head asks, “Do you really?”

I repeat the prayers that kept me on track for the past year and try to believe that nothing has really changed.

In fact, nothing has changed.

What seems like a lot of money to me is almost-literally nothing to God — it rounds down to zero for the creator, owner and sustainer of it everything.

Not only does He have it all, He loves me, and wants only the best for me.

I believe that soon I will walk by the lake again. I trust the debt drop will continue, and the credit score will rise all the more.

If I had to figure out how to solve all of this myself, I might actually get depressed. After all, I’m the one who got into this mess, so there’s no reason to think I’ve got the smarts to get myself out of it.

I set the setbacks back with three simple ideas:

  1. I know the smartest man who ever lived, who
  2. designed and built this machine called life, and
  3. who gets His kicks from making His people truly happy.