“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” – Proverbs 24:10-12.
It was Gene Kranz, flight director of Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions that was reported to have said, ”Failure is not an option.” Most men would agree with that assessment because men don’t want to fail. Not even once. We want to measure up and be admired, but to do that we have to be successful. Unfortunately, most people who fail end up with regrets, not admiration. This regret takes the form of: “I wish I had” or “I should have done” or “Why didn’t I?”
Samson was the poster boy for “shoulda coulda woulda.” Samson’s story reminds us that man’s greatest fear is failure, and his greatest pain is regret. So in life, failure is an event, an occurrence, not a person. No matter how badly you’ve messed up in your life, you probably could not match Samson. Samson failed individually, but he also failed a nation. Most of us will never take down a nation with our failures. But we will fail. To see failure in the light of the Spirit is to let failure contribute to one’s growth in Christ.
The key is to not let the failure define you. And, don’t internalize a failure until it starts to ferment into regret. Own it. Learn from it. Pain can be a great teacher. As C.S Lewis said, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” Just because you’re down doesn’t mean you’re out. Not by a long shot. Even in our failures, God can still accomplish His purpose. It’s through our weaknesses that He shows himself strong.
When we fail, the important thing is to get up, confess it to God and, where necessary, to the person whom we have hurt, if we have hurt someone, and ask for their forgiveness. Then we need to forgive ourselves as God forgives us, and learn from the experience. Remember, too, it’s not God’s goal to make us good but to make us whole, and the more whole and mature we become, the less we will act out in harmful ways—and the less we will fail.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” (Hebrews 12:11-13)
- How did Samson respond to failure? What would you have done differently?
- What regrets do you struggle with? How have these regrets affected you and your relationship with Christ?
- How have you seen God accomplish His purposes in the midst of your failures?
- What steps can we take this week to better deal with our failures?