“Oh what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t;
To weep and sigh because I’m blind?
I cannot, and I won’t.” ~Fanny J. Crosby1
To most of us, the thought of failure in anything—projects, business, romance, or athletics, equates to disaster. We are our worst critics in this regard even if our friends or family are more gracious. Men especially beat themselves mercilessly with the hammer of failure. We take one definition of failure very personally: an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success: His effort ended in failure. The campaign was a failure.
Viewing our efforts which did not end in success through a filter of negativity, sending ourselves into a pool of pity is actually thumbing our noses at God. We decide that failure or success is entirely in our hands and if we don’t win or achieve our goal, we are poor miserable failures, off to the shoulda, woulda, coulda room filled with feelings of loathing and worthlessness. Sound like God to you? Sounds more like fiery darts from satan’s quiver to me.
The Bible says, regarding failure:
Deut. 31:8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
1 Kings 8:56 Praise the LORD who has given rest to His people Israel, just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises He gave through His servant Moses.
Joshua 21:45 None of the good promises the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.
1 Peter 4:12-19 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you…But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?…So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.
If, in regard to these verses above, I feel a failure, abandoned and discouraged…what am I saying to God?
Luke 22:32 “I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Because Jesus knew Peter would deny him three times, He was preparing Peter for the future and how to resolve his coming “failure.” Repent and turn to Him again is our answer as well. Jesus must be our focus, not ourselves with all our flaws.
The apostle Paul’s life, when viewed realistically, seems remarkably like a failure according to his own words in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 ~ I received the “forty lashes minus one” from the Jews five times. I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I was shipwrecked three times. I spent a day and a night on the open sea. I’ve been on many journeys. I faced dangers from rivers, robbers, my people, and Gentiles. I faced dangers in the city, in the desert, on the sea, and from false brothers and sisters. I faced these dangers with hard work and heavy labor, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, and in the cold without enough clothes.
When viewed through the filter of human success stories, this commentary of Paul’s life fails miserably. But viewed through the filter of Jesus Christ, Paul’s life stands as an excellent example of keeping his “eye on the prize” (Phil. 3:10-14). An example established for all believers in contrast to the worldly idea of success.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be done away. . . In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.
God’s love never fails and He has given us His never-failing love!
1. Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915) was a lifelong Methodist. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs, with over 100 million copies printed. This is despite her being blind from shortly after birth.