Ever wonder why some endeavors, no matter how straight a path you walk, seem doomed to failure? You’ve done and said the right things, gone about it in the right way, tried hard to cover every base and every angle, yet find that your best efforts and high hopes appear to come to nothing.
A lot of things can contribute to our failures so it is easy to offer an overly simplistic answer to one another. Things like wrong motives, sinful hindrances, and spiritual opposition manifested in hard and hostile hearts can all be factors in why we may not succeed (even when we really want it). Not least among such reasons is our own impatience with God’s timing and our tendency to give up too soon.
But to really understand why failure is such a pervasive part of the human experience, one must understand that failure is itself woven into the fabric of creation.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21 ESV).
Failure (a.k.a. “futility”) is not merely the ultimate conclusion of creation’s disconnect from God (although one’s destruction may rightly be deemed his ultimate failure). Failure is also the one thing you can count on experiencing – at some point in life – not just in the passive sense of simply having something unfortunate happening to you or even in the sense of bringing down bad things upon yourself because you’ve made bad decisions. Failure comes to us also in the active sense in that God, in His sovereignty, deliberately foils our ambitions, plans and endeavors at times. Why? Does He delight in tormenting us? Does it amuse Him to tease and frustrate us, His creation? Nope. He does it so that He may bring us to a better and more lasting reward: “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (in verse 21).
Not content in allowing us to be content with our mud pie plans for enjoying the “fine things” this world can offer, He has in store a feast of the sumptuous foods of fellowship with Himself! Not settling for permitting us to dwell in the straw-thatched hovels of our earthly dreams, He has reserved for us lodgings in the palatial halls of His glory! And not indifferent to our indifference to our own spiritual plight, He has a way of prying from our fingers the plastic fragments of earthly treasures so that He may fill our destiny with heavenly gemstones!
Failure, in the hands of God, can turn earthbound eyes to one’s eternal destiny, reveal his need for forgiveness of sin, and impress upon him the urgency of the hour – the moments are fleetly passing that we have to spend in preparing for what comes after life-as-we-know-it-here-on-planet-earth. Failure is often a crowbar in God’s hand to pry from us something less than His best for us! And what is His best for us? Eternal fellowship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ!
So what will you do with your failures? Linger over them and be quagmired in regret? Will you turn again and again to only those petty dreams you’ve always known? Or will you allow God, through Jesus Christ, to turn your eyes heavenward so that you might even now prepare to meet Him?
The love of God is actively pursuing you, seeking to leverage your failures as well as your successes for your eternal benefit. Will you not trust Him and surrender to a love so amazing that all your imperfections, flaws, and failures are swallowed up in His amazing grace?
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 22 ½ years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).