The Bible describes each one of our lives as like a "journey". We are "pilgrims" on a road of progress and purpose. Each of us is at different points along the "path of life". Along the way, there are many different "seasons" we go through, many varied "circumstances" we navigate through, many different "decisions" we make that each have consequences and many "changes" we experience in the process (see Prov.4:18; 15:19, 24. Ps.119:105).
God desires for us to also encounter many "breakthroughs" along the way (turning points, strategic opportunities), which become "holy ground" moments during our journey. Many of these breakthrough moments come out of times of personal "desperation" where significant things occur in our lives that dramatically affect our future.
Jacob had a tremendous heritage and inheritance through his family. He knew God's call and experienced God's blessing on his life. Along the way, through various circumstances, God exposed character issues that Jacob needed to deal with. One night, when he was left "alone", he wrestled with an angel all night. Jacob was desperate for God to bless him. Through this encounter with God, his name and character was changed (Gen.32:24-32). Although Jacob walked with a limp from that time on, life change, breakthrough and greater blessing were his.
So we see that one type of experience that God uses to shape a person's life is in the area of frustration, dissatisfaction or even failure, which can lead to a strong sense of desperation. Out of desperation can come powerful life-change.
Possessing a "desperation factor" is a vital ingredient of growth and change. There has to be a huge sense of "want to", "need to" or "must". Without this strong desperation, you will not pay the price to change and live a life of greater discipline and purpose. An important principle in the personal journey of every believer is this: "What you tolerate, you will never change!" It is only when we refuse to tolerate something in our own lives (not "others", where we often need to be patient and loving) that we raise our sense of desperation and push through the pain barrier to bring about change.
As we exercise our will, God's power is then released into our situation. God "works in" us as we "work out" our salvation (Phil.2:12-13). It is "both/and" not "either/or". Sometimes God initiates these times (like Jacob's encounter), other times we do (Prodigal Son - Lk.15:11-32), most often it is a combination of both.
The Prodigal Son didn't appreciate what he had in father's house and he made a decision to take a path that looked more attractive and pleasurable. For a while, everything went fine but then he hit hard times and eventually, when at the bottom, he made a decision out of desperation to change the course of his life - to get back on the right path and get headed in the
right direction. He refused to tolerate where he was and the life he was living.Using the Power of Desperation to Change
Why wait until you hit bottom or the pain gets so bad that you have to change? Why not make the decisions that lead to life right now! Why not allow the Holy Spirit to tap into the power of desperation in your life today - right now!
Discussion Questions for Life Group Leaders
- What am I tolerating right now?
Ask yourself, "What am I tolerating right now that God wants to change?" Is it a sin, a bad habit, a broken relationship, ministry stagnation or something else? Think about this and ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of how things really are in your life and ministry. Define reality (see Ps.139:23. 2 Cor.13:5). Take time to evaluate your life. Reflect, appraise, be honest and get real. How is my life going? Really?
- Why am I tolerating this?
Think about "why" you're doing what you're doing right now (or not doing something you know is important). Everything we do is for a reason, whether we're conscious of it or not. Usually that reason has to do with "avoiding pain" and "gaining pleasure" (Tit.3:3. Lk.8:14. Heb.11:25). Change requires linking pain to your old behaviour and pleasure to your new. Often, living at a higher level requires some short-term pain to achieve long-term pleasure. This is wisdom.
- What are my options?
Then ask yourself, "What can I do about this?" Consider your options. You can do nothing and keep living the same way. That's a genuine option. However, think about the consequences of that option. Or you can do something about what you're tolerating and do something different to change this area of your life. Success or failure is usually found in the daily habits of our lives. If you keep doing the same things you'll probably get the same results. Often different actions produce different results.
- What will I do about it?
Finally, ask yourself, "What will I do about this?" and "When?" Accept responsibility for your situation and for doing something to change it. "Repentance" reflects desperation. It says, "I refuse to keep going this way." "I will turn around, towards God and change me direction and way of living." Interrupt your limiting pattern (bad habit) and create a new alternative (new habit) then reinforce it over and over. Our "decisions" determine our destiny not our "conditions".
Don't be like Pharoah who was willing to spend one more night with the frogs because he refused to change his heart (Ex.8:8-10). Cultivate a fresh sense of desperation that motivates you to be who God wants you to be and to do what he wants you to do. When a person uses the power of desperation, God can move in to bring about deep and lasting change that results in breakthroughs to new levels of intimacy with God, character change and increased ministry effectiveness. Others notice and are inspired to do the same. How's your desperation factor?
Firstly, give a brief overview of the content of this message. Then have some sharing time around questions such as these:
- How's your journey going? Where are you right now? What's happening right now?
- What is something that you are tolerating that you'd like to or know you should change?
- What are some of these reasons why this has been a difficult change to make?
- What are some options for you?
- What decision do you need to make today? What will you do about it?
A key to a good open discussion in a fairly personal area such as this is the leader's own personal vulnerability. As you share something from your own life, that will encourage others to do the same. Finish up with a time of prayer for each person and maybe offer some accountability.