But whether our failure is due to our own mistakes, or others… whether it’s because of our sin, the sin of others, or just the reality of living in a sinful world, failure can surely feel like the final word in our lives.
It doesn’t have to be.
The enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) intends for failure to be the final word in your life and mine. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s how …
1. Listen to God
Miriam didn’t put her fingers in her ears and sing “La-la-la-la-la.” She came out to the Tent of Meeting and she listened to what God had to say.
When we’re faced with personal failure, whether it’s because of sin or mistakes, we need to put ourselves in a position to listen to God.
For me, as I sat on the beach the week after She Speaks, it meant that as I dug my toes in the sand, I also dug into God’s word, prayed, journaled, cried a bit, and talked to Bill.
Listen to God.
2. Learn from God
But do more than listen, learn. God tells that his discipline is a mark of “sonship.” Many of us, when we hear the word “discipline,” we think of time-out, or doing extra chores, or even a spanking. But discipline is really “disciple-ing.”
When you’re facing failure of any kind, receive the consequences from God as his means of discipling you.
I’m guessing Miriam had plenty of time in her seven days outside the camp to consider how she ended up in this mess.
In my seven days at the beach (a much better alternative than being struck with leprosy and stuck out in the wilderness), I wrote out the lessons I learned while they were still fresh. And remembering the discipline and disciple are at their root one and the same, I rejoiced that my God truly disciples those he loves. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Learn from God.
3. Look for blessing
I’m thinking about Peter on this one. He failed big-time on the night of Jesus’ trial. He had promised never-ending allegiance to Jesus.
“Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)
But fear kicked in and Peter denied Jesus three times.
But then, on the morning that the earth shook and the stone rolled back, the women saw a young man, an angel, sitting by the place where Jesus had lain. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. he has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:1-7)
“Go tell his disciples and Peter.”
In spite of his failure, Peter got the shout-out. I think Jesus did this to let Peter know without a doubt that although he had messed up big-time, failure was not the final word in his life.
Look for blessings.
4. Leave the label
Peter did leave the label. Racing to the tomb, he saw the linen cloths for himself (Luke 24:12).
And then early one morning with the mystery of it all still hovering over them, Peter, John, and several of the other disciples went out fishing. As day was breaking they heard a voice from the shore, “Have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
“Cast your net on the other side and you’ll find some.”
I see the disciples looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders. “Couldn’t hurt.”
And when they tossed out their net, it filled with so many fish that they couldn’t even haul the net up into the boat.
“It’s the Lord!” shouted John.
Peter was out of that boat in a flash, swimming as only a Galilean fisherman can swim. As he pushed through the shallows onto the shore, he found Jesus stirring coals in the fire pit.
“Peter, get some of those fish you’ve caught. I’m cooking fish and chips for breakfast.” (John 21:1-14)
Peter left behind the label of “failure,” and received the new label Jesus was revealing to him. Leave the label.
5. Love God
This is the most important thing God has for any of us coming out of failure. Our tendency will be fight or flight. Some of us will fight the reality of failure with anger. We’ll blame others and have fifty reasons why it all went wrong. Some of us will handle failure with flight. We’ll bury the pain, smile and pretend it doesn’t matter. But, if we choose fight or flight, we’re missing the blessing of learning to love God more deeply.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive failand the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the foldand there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord;I will take joy in the God of my salvation.God, the Lord, is my strength;he makes my feet like the deer’s;he makes me tread on my high places.
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me””
“Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”
Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”
Finally, Peter says, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (John 21:15-19)
I think in this question and answer, Peter learns that he really does love Jesus. Failure did not have the final word in his life. Love God.
If you have failure in your life, welcome to the club. We all do. Failure is simply part of life. But what the enemy intends for evil, God wants to use for good. (Genesis 50:20) For your good and for his glory. Will you let him?
Failure is not the final word…in your life or mine
I’d love to connect with you! Leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter. And, if you’ve found this post helpful, I’d appreciate it if you’d link this post on your FB page or tweet something that was particularly significant for you. Thanks! ~Cindy