Today’s devotional: setbacks… or opportunities?

Everyone can remember a time that a surprise interruption almost ruined a major project or experience—maybe bad weather (or an Icelandic volcano) wreaked havoc on much-anticipated travel plans, or a neighbor’s dog ripped up the garden you spent all weekend planting.

In this Nehemiah Notes devotional, Blaine Smith recounts one such setback. It’s a scenario familiar to most of us, but still painful to read: a computer crash wiped out weeks’ worth of work. Faced with the prospect of re-writing all the material that had been lost, Smith almost despaired… until he realized that the “setback” was actually a good thing for him:

Because I had to start on a clean slate when I started writing again a few days later, I decided to try a different approach to the book [I was writing]. I was pleased to find that this new direction worked better, and I wasn’t struggling for ideas as greatly. In the end, I never rewrote those chapters that I lost that morning. I’m now convinced this material would have bogged the book down and that the book is stronger for leaving it out.

The incident is an interesting example of one way that an unwelcome interruption sometimes brings us a surprising benefit. We’re headed fast down a track that we don’t realize is less than best for us, but the interruption allows us to pause and reconsider our options. Apart from the computer mishap, I’m certain I either would have left that material in the book or taken much longer to decide not to use it.

A friend of mine received a similar benefit from an unwanted interruption. She had carefully planned a major move, but then fell ill and had to cancel her plans. “I realize now that God simply stopped me,” she says. “With hindsight, it’s clear to me that this move wouldn’t have been right for me.”

Read the full devotional at Nehemiah Notes.

Think about some of the setbacks you’ve experienced lately. In hindsight, can you see God’s hand at work in it, using the unasked-for challenge to prompt you in a new direction?

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