By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
It seems every time we turn around there are signs of shattered dreams. Reality in itself appears as a devastating darkness with faint glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.
Yet we are given the choice if we will let our circumstances define our ambition, or if we will instead turn to God and a Kingdom mindset of His truths and reality.
Life will appear tattered and ravaged, but perhaps those setbacks are preceding a comeback. Here are 5 biblical and real-life stories that prove any situation can be turned around.
1. Joseph's Life Story
The Bible is full of tragedy turned triumph stories, and this is exceedingly evident in the story of Joseph in Genesis.
Joseph was the son of Jacob, and a wild dreamer. As a teen, he was given vivid and picturesque dreams from God, but his delivery in sharing such visions provoked his brothers. His brothers began to detest Joseph from a fiery gut of jealousy, and literally sell him into slavery.
Joseph’s path is not made easier as a slave either. He was framed by the wife of his owner, Potiphar, and thrown into prison. At this point the dreams Joseph had of prominent position would appear impossible.
Imagine an inmate being raised to the point of being in power? Yet God is the God of the comeback story and this was not the end of Joseph’s tale.
Joseph’s gifts of dreaming and interpreting dreams had not be stolen from him like his freedom, even in prison he was deciphering dreams for others. When Pharaoh had a perplexing dream that no one could seem to untangle God had insured Joseph would have his comeback moment.
Genesis 41:9 explains how a prisoner came to be in front of the man who sat on the throne of Egypt, “Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream.”
God is also the God of details, had it not been for the cupbearer being sent into custody and given a specific dream, Joseph would not have had his opportunity to share his gift with someone directly in service of Pharaoh. God ensured each detail was in order so that Joseph would find himself in front of the Ruler to unlock the mystery.
After he solves the riddle of the dream Pharaoh is so elated and full of confidence in Joseph that he makes Joseph his right-hand man, fulfilling Joseph’s teenage dream of ruling.
The old saying of, “it is always darkest before the dawn” is another way of saying despite how dark aspects of your story may look now, this is not the end. God is the God of the details and when we take Him at His word that He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28) we can rest assured that the dawn will come.
Dawn may not appear as we have imagined it, it may feel as if the night has lasted forever, and the moments before the dawn may prove wrenchingly painful, but hold hope that the God of Joseph still works miracle stories today.
2. Job's Glorious Restoration
Perhaps one of the most glorious of comeback stories in the Bible is that of Job.
His story begins by explaining how Job was an upstanding man, in fact, he had the most integrity and character of anyone on earth. The Devil saw this and sought to test Job’s loyalty to God through trial.
God allows this because God knows Job’s true devotion to Him, even in the midst of calamity. Job through the story loses his wealth, lands, and even his own family, yet he never curses God. Many of his friends gather around him, but offer poor advice.
His own wife encourages him to curse God and die, yet Job preservers. Job feels the anguish of his afflictions, he even aches that he exists, but he does not profane his God. In time God and Job have an in-depth conversation in which God affirms His sovereignty. Job attests to the truth that, “no plan of God’s can be thwarted” (Job 42).
This is pertinent because it circles back that despite the downfalls in life, God is still sovereign and no plan of His can be thwarted. God rewards Job for his commitment to Him and blesses him doubly what he had before. All that Job lost was not just restored to its original status, it is blessed to a multitude.
Job held on through the storms of his life. To the world it appeared that he lost everything, but he did not lose his faith or his God.
When life seems stripped away to nothing, not all is lost. God is always there, even when the loudest sound is silence. Just as God swept through and ushered in a comeback for Job, life can change in the blink of an eye, for good.
3. Harry Reese's Persistence
The most popular candy on planet Earth not surprisingly is the Reese’s Cup, but the back story of this perfect recipe finds its most prominent ingredient from the heart of its creator, H. B. Reese.
Harry Reese was not originally a confectioner, in fact the very trade that would one day become his legacy was the same trade that devastated his life. Reese worked for The Hershey Company in Chocolate Town, USA, also known as Hershey, Pennsylvania. He worked as the manager of the Round Barn for the Hershey Company.
This position in the company provided security, stability, and sufficient income for his large family. In 1919 the Round Barn was closed in an effort to save money. Harry Reese found himself the father and provider of ten with no job.
It is not hard to imagine that this was a devastating blow to the man. It was likely the kind of sucker punch to the gut that would defeat someone, but Harry Reese chose to take this bitter reality and find a sweet solution. Because of his position as manager of the Round Barn he learned many valuable skills of what it took to create chocolate.
Several attempts were made in his own home kitchen before the fateful day when the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter would at last come to be. The Reese’s Cup soon became a local favorite and it caught the attention of the Hershey Company. Hershey’s sought a partnership with Reese, supplying the chocolate for his chocolate peanut butter cups.
Hershey’s would buy the H.B. Reese company after Harry Reese’s death, with his descendants still receiving a percentage of its earnings to this day, showing his legacy lives on.
It would appear at one point in Reese’s life that his story was reaching towards tragedy, but that was not the end of his story. Act two of his story proved to be the comeback from the setback, but it only happened because the mold was broken in his life of a typical story.
4. Walt Disney's 180 Turnaround
Disney seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to media, but that was not the case early on for its founder Walt Disney.
Walt Disney began as an animator and cartoonist in the early 1920’s. He founded his first venture, Laugh-O-Grams Studio which produced several short animated films.
By 1923 Disney found himself in deep debt and was forced to declare bankruptcy. Along with his brother, Roy, Disney attempted a second studio and it was during these years that the idea for a cartoon mouse sparked Disney’s imagination.
He originally wanted to call the friendly mouse, Mortimer, but his wife thought he should have a gentler name, like Mickey. The years that followed suit with the creation of Mickey Mouse, movies such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and other creations skyrocketed Disney to success.
It would have been exceedingly easy for Disney to quit after Laugh-O-Grams went belly up, but Disney did not let his circumstances dictate his motivation. Today Disney Studios stands a giant, all because of the drive of a man and his mouse.
5. The Pain That Birthed "Garden Party"
Growing up, my father, an avid lover of 70’s music, used to share the behind the scenes stories he knew from songs. One of the most impactful was that of, “Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson.
Glancing at just the song title, you would think it a lyrical tale of a spring gathering of souls as blossoms bloomed, but the truth is far more captivating. Ricky Nelson was a popular singer during the 1950s and early 1960s. His music carried a nostalgic 1950s sentiment and was successful really until the rise of the Beatles in the mid 60’s.
In 1971 Nelson was invited to perform at Madison Square Garden alongside greats such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Bobby Rydell for a “Rock and Roll Spectacular.” Nelson performed a few classics, but decided to try out a cover of, “Honky Tonk Women” to which he was shocked to hear an uproar of booing.
Imagine the same voices that had cheered for you years before now booing you off the stage. This humiliating experience was the catalyst behind Nelson’s original song, “Garden Party” which inevitably became his top song. It is the song he is primarily known for, and his top hit, but it was created out of a setback.
This song became Nelson’s legacy, and the irony of it all is that from pain birthed this garden. The key to it all was that Nelson channeled the energy from this defeat to make something beautiful. What a challenge that becomes to us now that the thorns life cuts us with may lead us to the roses of potential.
We Serve a Comeback God.
God is a God of restoration and compassion, and He cares far more than we can even think or imagine about our lives individually. For so many the uncertainty of the virus, unrest in our culture, and the unknowns of the future have left many feeling defeated, overwhelmed, or crushed in spirit.
Yet this is an instance in which we can turn our faces towards God, the God Who splits seas, makes prisoners rulers, and defies death itself.
Your set-back is not your curtain call, it is the set-up before act two.
The Food that Built America
Song Facts: Ricky Nelson
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys leading a high school girls’ small group, cooking, and spending time in tree houses. Her latest books, Dear Young Sparrow and Unveiled are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan.