I hate to fail. Throughout my life, I can honestly say there are only a few things I have failed at. I used to take pride in that. Let’s be clear though. It’s not because I’m so great at everything. In fact, I’m pretty average at most things and downright awful at others Singing, housekeeping, guessing the winning lotto numbers to name a few.
The fact that I haven’t failed at much is really a flaw. Looking back at a few things in my life, I can see how it has really held me back.
When I finally made it onto my high school cheerleading squad (I was originally an alternate), I struggled during the first practice. I was too scared because I wasn’t good and I quit. When it came time to apply for college, I applied only to the University of Florida and the Florida State University. Two schools I knew I could get into.
I didn’t want to be rejected by anyone.
While I still struggle with my part in my failed (1st) marriage, my greatest failure by far is in my lack of failing.
And why is it that I don’t often fail? Because I don’t trust. I don’t trust my own abilities. I don’t trust God’s ability to see me through it. I’ve got too much pride to tell people I failed. It’s so much easier not to try. It hurts so much less.
As a Christian, does it even matter whether I take a chance and even more so if I fail? Absolutely!
What’s So Biblical About Failure?
I can’t say that I’ve ever met someone who enjoys failing. But I do know many people who have the courage to stand tall in the face of adversity. Unafraid of failing. Willing to take chances. Assessing the risk and recognizing the benefits are worth it. They have such faith!
In Hebrews 11:1, faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” So what does this mean for those of us who do not have faith enough to risk failing? The apostle Paul discusses those of weak and strong mind in his letter to the Romans, specifically talking about what types of food people should eat. It is not about food though. It is about our faith and personal convictions. Doing things when you have doubts about whether or not to do them.
Let’s dig a little bit more. Romans 14:23 says “But whoever doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” When it comes to adversity, having fear of failure and making the decision not to risk is a lack of faith. Fear of failure does not come from faith. Fear of failure; therefore is a sin. Whoa.
What’s So Great About Failure?
I know what you’re thinking because I think that way too. “Sure, Ana. Try to guilt me into not being fearful. That makes a whole lot of sense!”
That’s not my goal. EVER. My intention for pointing out that our unbelief is sinful is simply to redirect our thoughts to the One who can help us with our unbelief.
In times of trouble, remember what 2 Corinthians 4:10 says. “We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” After all, upon accepting Jesus Christ as our savior, the Holy Spirit indwells us.
Thinking about that puts 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 in a new perspective:
… Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When we are weak in our own power, then we are strong in the grace of Jesus. When we are weak, we go to Jesus and receive His strength and power. The same power that raised Him from the dead.
The same supernatural power that indwells us!
Embracing adversity and the things we fear brings us to a point of weakness. But it is when we reach the end of ourselves that we are able to bring God glory and access the supernatural power we have received in Christ.
What Do We Do When Faced With Adversity?
As you approach your next obstacle, the thing that sends shivers down your spine and sends your mind into a whirlwind, remember that God has not given us a “spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) When we abide in God’s word, we bear the fruit of His word. Among that fruit (Galatians 5:22 – 23) is love and self-control.
Even when we don’t win (notice I said ‘when’ and not ‘if’), we know that God is always working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Sometimes our failures come from pruning – not punishment. I have a tendency to shake my fists in the air when things do not go my way and ask God, “Why? What have I done to deserve this? Why won’t you fix this?”
In his gentle, loving way, he simply says “I AM.”
Jesus said in John 15:1
“I am the vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be more fruitful…If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”
That fruit we see in Galatians is the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are given power (the same power through the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave) and love and self-control (both fruit of the Spirit).
When faced with adversity, recognize that we can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13) We do not need to be afraid because the LORD our God is with us and will never leave us. We need to remain in Him. Abide.
So, practically, what can we do? Philippians 4:6 – 7 says “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, through prayer, petition with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Don’t miss that. We are to bring every situation to God, with thanksgiving.
It continues on in verses 8 and 9 to instruct us in what to do next.
“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
When we abide, we will have the peace of God.
What Do We Do
If When We Fail?
As I mentioned earlier, there will be times when (not if) we fail. Sister, we need to arm ourselves with God’s truth before that time comes.
Here are a few verses from scripture to remember when we fail:
1. Proverbs 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
I just love this verse. He is my strength. He protects me as a shield. I trust him and he helps me. This is the same word ‘help’ that is used to describe Eve when God created her for Adam. My heart leaps! I am so overwhelmed with joy that my heart leaps. I love that.
2. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
It is so easy for us to keep our failures to ourselves. With social media, it seems like everyone’s private lives now become public. Fodder for people who feel better about themselves seeing others fail. We are not accountable to them though. Even if we are subject to our own consequences, we are required to confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness for our sins and be cleansed of all “unrighteousness.”
3. 2 Corinthians 4:7 – 12
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Such a great example of being made strong in the power of Jesus Christ when we are weak by our own strength.
You may feel pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down BUT you will not be crushed, in despair, abandoned, struck down or destroyed. Yes! Oh, sister. I’m starting to see Mel Gibson in Braveheart in that epic (obligatory pre-war) pep talk. Are you ready for some warpaint yet?
4. Philippians 3:13 – 14 “…one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Continuing to dwell on your past failures is like walking on a cracked sidewalk. Eventually, you will trip and fall. But if you “press on,” you can remember your mistakes and use them to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
5. Hebrews 12:1-2
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
If I were running a race with a cumbersome backpack on, the weight would slow me down. As is the case with sin that “so easily tangles.” Once we evaluate what is holding us back and throw it off, we can continue running with perseverance with our eyes fixed on Jesus.
How Do We Take Comfort In Our Failures?
More than anything else, I want you to take comfort in your failures. As my husband says, “There is no win or lose. There is only win or learn.” God is anxious to have another Warrior Princess and you are just the gal. He will rescue you and uphold you with his hand (Psalm 37:23 – 24) when you fall (Psalm 37:33, Psalm 145:14). If God is for you, then who can possibly be against you? (Romans 8:31)
Whatever pit you are in, he will set your feet on a rock so you can stand firmly on the ground (Psalm 40:2-3).
Ultimately, it’s not about failing. Aside from his command to love God and to love others as ourselves, he said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (2 Corinthians 4:10). No matter the outcome just be obedient to what he has called you to. So fail away. In the end, it is still a win-win! Now, I’m off to find a kilt and some face paint.