Have you ever had to deal with failure? That’s a silly question, isn’t it! I’m sure you have. I have.
Yet, we might not think it is a silly question to ask, because sometimes we think that failure is not the common lot of people, for they are not as we are. If we are honest, we all have to deal with the feelings of disappointment, defeat, depression, and even the despair failure brings when it is not dealt with in a biblical way.
You are not alone in your failure. Those whom you may look at and even envy or wish you could change places with have failed at one time or another. In fact, if the truth were known, they probably are dealing with the feeling of failure to one degree or another in one or more areas of their lives.
As you read this, you may feel alone. You may feel like the biggest failure. You may think there is no recovery, but I have good news for you! If you will take God at His Word (and it is printed out for you in black and white in the Bible), your failure will become a stepping stone to greater Christlikeness and intimacy with God. Failure will become a means to an end, rather than the end!
I say this because to fail is to be humbled. Failure makes us aware of our own impotence, our imperfections, our shortcomings. Failure brings us low. And if we respond properly by humbling ourselves before our heavenly Father, then according to James 4:10, we will find Him exalting us. And when God exalts us, after we experience the humiliation and defeat of failing, then His exaltation is a safe exaltation rather than a source of pride which only and eventually leads to greater defeat and failure.
So in the light of this, let’s look at failure. To fail means that...you didn’t measure up, you didn’t achieve your goal, you didn’t hit the standard you or someone else had set, you didn’t accomplish what you thought you should accomplish or wanted to achieve.
In a sense, this is where life begins — in a state of failure. David, the Psalmist wrote, “...in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). To sin is to miss the mark, the standard set by God. It is to fall short — to fail to be what we are to be. All mankind is born into that state. Romans 3:23 says, “...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Consequently, we are all slated for failure unless we turn to God.
Christianity is God’s means of bringing us out of failure! But it is a process — and that is what so many of us forget in our relationships and dealings with others and in our understanding of ourselves and of where we are in the process of sanctification.
By sanctification, I mean the living of our lives in such a way as to know, believe, and embrace what God says so that we order our actions and thoughts according to His precepts and, thus, experience success rather than defeat!
Remember, the world’s definition of success is far different from God’s, and that is only logical since the world does not know God, fear God, or trust God. So you must not measure yourself or your success by the world’s standard. To do so would be foolish. You are in the world but not of the world.
Therefore, what the world considers “failure” may not be failure at all. For instance, if you did not meet your goals today, it does not mean that you failed; but if you violate one of God’s principles or precepts that would be failure — and that can be handled immediately by repentance and confession.
God and obedience to His precepts take us from failure to success by humbling us to the point where we know the only way to genuinely succeed, or to be blameless, is through Him. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy...” (Jude 1:24, emphasis added).
So, how does one recover from falling short? How does one go from stumbling to standing?
The answers will be varied according to where and how you failed, but the source will always remain the same...God and His precepts of life. That is why you must be in the Word of God on a consistent basis. But it is going to take discipline on your part.
So lift up the hands which hang down in defeat (Hebrews 12). Come out of...or survive...spiritual depressions by forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward what lies before you. (Philippians 3). If you have failed morally, throw yourself on His mercy, His grace, even as David did in Psalm 51.
Do not give in to despair — God is your redeemer. He buys back, buys out, rescues, sets free, protects. He is the God of another chance to all who genuinely have a change of mind and throw themselves into His outstretched arms and bury themselves in His all-sufficient breast.
You may be thinking, “That may be true, it may work for you or for you others, but it won’t work for me.” If so, then, my friend, you are listening to the liar (John 8:44). You have met the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy — the one who is determined to keep you a failure (John 10:10). The only way you will bring him down, the only way you will extinguish those fiery arrows which will impale you on the stake of a life of continuous defeat until you are consumed in its flames of destruction, is through the Word. His Word is truth...and it alone can sanctify you — set you apart for victory.
So, run to your God. Confess your failure — name it for what it is. Call it nothing less, don’t sugarcoat it or gloss over it. Call it my name. Be honest, be blunt. Say it aloud. Tell God you want to succeed, not fail, and that you know only He can do that. Tell Him you are willing to do whatever is necessary if He will simply show you what to do by laying it upon your heart, putting it in your mind. Then check it out. Make sure what you are “hearing in your mind, feeling in your heart” is in accord with the whole teaching of the Bible.
If you have that assurance, then do whatever God leads you to do. Remember, if what you are feeling, if what you are hearing is of God, it will be in keeping with His character and with His Word. If you are wrong, but your heart is to do right, God will make that known to you (Philippians 3:15). When you are convinced of what God wants you to do, then cling to Him, to His promises...and watch what God will do. Observe to do according to all He tells you. Don’t turn to the right or to the left. Then you will have success, for it is God’s intent that you succeed rather than fail (Joshua 1:7-9).
And what will happen? You will become a man, a woman, a teenager for renown, for praise, and for glory (Jeremiah 13:11b).
Failure can either be a stumbling block that flattens you or it can be a stepping-stone to a life of success built upon the unmovable Cornerstone. It is all a matter of faith.
The remedy for failure is faith...faith’s obedience, faith’s trust in the One who stands behind every word of His holy book, the Bible.
Remember, you only fail if you refuse to believe God and refuse to allow your failure to be a stepping-stone to greater Christlikeness.
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Host, Precepts For Life
Co-Founder, Precept Ministries International
Life in the Spirit Precepts for Life Free Download Study Guide for the radio / tv broadcast series by Kay Arthur. Be conformed to the image of Christ, as man was designed to be, through this powerful study of the Holy Spirit – His leading, filling, wisdom, intercession, righteousness, peace, joy and comfort.