Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you are failing? Although you are working hard and are diligent in your efforts, nothing seems to be happening. No matter what you try, or how hard you try, nothing is working. You cry out, “Where is your presence, Lord?” And you find yourself shaking your head in the deafening silence.
It reminds me of a pastor I read about. He finally decided that he could not take it anymore so he drove his pickup truck into the parking lot of the church. He backed the truck across the lawn to his study door. Refusing all assistance, he began to empty everything in his office onto the truck bed. First, he dumped his desk drawers and his files. Last was his library of books, which he tossed carelessly into a heap. His task done, he left the church, drove out to the city dump, where he threw everything into the garbage pile. I suppose it was his way of putting behind him the overwhelming sense of failure and loss that he had experienced in his ministry.
Paul said, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9, KJV). Yet, this seems easier said than done, especially when you keep hitting wall after wall, road block after road block. However, it may be a little easier to endure when we realize that God has not abandoned us; even though we are experiencing, either a setback, or our inability to get things going.
There are a few things that I would like for you to consider as it relates to God’s faithfulness and our failures. First, I want to remind you and encourage you that we serve the God of second chances. There was a prophet by the name of Jonah. He had received direction from the Lord to go and preach to the people in Nineveh. Jonah however, disobeyed God and fled from His presence. After being thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish, Jonah repented. It was after this failure that “The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time” (Jonah 3:1, KJV). Another example is Peter. After this disciple had failed Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times, Jesus appeared to His followers and particularly Peter. As they were sitting around the fire eating fish, Jesus recommissioned Peter, interestingly enough, three times. Please remember that this was the number of times Peter had denied the Lord. The point is, God does not give up on us when we fail. We serve a God of second chances, third chances, and my list could go on and on.
Second, it is important to have a Biblical perspective on failure. Would it surprise you that the world’s definition of success and God’s definition of success can be two very different things? Your heavenly Father loves you and has a plan for YOUR life. I think it is important not to base our expectations of success on whether we are as good, or seeing the same type of accomplishment, as someone else. This runs contrary to society and the world we live in because the world is constantly looking for benchmarks. This leads us to looking at, and comparing ourselves with, the success and failures of others. “…As ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1b, KJV, emphasis mine). Our aim should be to walk and to please God.
The Bible is replete with examples of people who served God with distinction, and yet, according to the world’s standards, would have been seen as a failure. Noah preached for 120 years and only had seven followers. The apostle Paul preached according to God’s calling on his life; consequently, he was rejected, beaten, and cast into prison. Finally, although I could name many more, our supreme example, Jesus Christ was born in a lowly manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. He grew up in a poor family. During His ministry He did not own a home, He was not a wealthy land owner, He faced constant rejection and ridicule by the elite religious leaders, and suffered a church split at the synagogue at Capernaum. When He faced the cross His little group of disciples abandoned Him. Yet all of these people that I have used as an example, and especially Jesus, are some of the greatest success stories every known.
My friend, God never abandons His own. He loves us even in the midst of our failures. And sometimes, the path we are calling a failure, is really an opportunity for God to have a powerful influence in our life. This so called failure also provides a great opportunity to expect God’s hand of blessing in our life.
Question: Is greatness possible without adversity?