“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” – James 3:2 (ESV).
Most people have experienced a setback in their family, or in their personal life, in their health, in relationships, in finances and in their relationship with God. Some of these setbacks are not our fault. Some of them are. We will fail in this life. The good news is your failure is not final. Your failure is not fatal. It was Jack Hyles who said, “Failing is not a disgrace unless you make it the last chapter of your book.”
Failing never seems to be a good thing. But if you will let God, He will use your failure as fuel for your future. It depends on how we respond. In fact, your future is wrapped up in how you respond to your failure. Isaiah 61:3 says He gives you “…a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”
When the subject of failing comes up in Bible study, the example that quickly comes to mind is Peter. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times. Peter’s reaction? He was adamant that he would never deny Christ. Peter claimed he would be willing to die with Him. (Matthew 26:35) Of course, we know Peter did deny he knew Jesus three times. After his failure, Peter “…left the courtyard, weeping bitterly” I wonder if Peter thought back to Matthew 10:33 when Jesus said, “But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” Again I wonder if Peter thought I’ve really done it this time. There’s no coming back from this failure. Fortunately, failure is not final. In fact, following His resurrection, Jesus took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven.
Early Sunday morning a small group of women went to Jesus’ tomb and found an angel who said: “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” Then the angel said these words: Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter…” (Mark 16:7) A personal note from God to Peter. God was not done with Peter yet.
That reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw one time that said, “Please be patient with me. God is not finished with me yet!” We are all under construction as God shapes us into the very image of His Son – the Lord Jesus Christ. And God promises to finish the work He began. When you feel incomplete, undone or distressed by your failures, remember God’s promise in Philippians 1:6 to continue the good work He began in you when you trusted Jesus as your Savior. Even when I feel like I am not making any progress, God is still at work.
- What has been your experience with failure in life?
- Can fear of failure be paralyzing and motivating? Why or why not?