Getting it wrong
You’re doing it wrong.
Have you ever had that feeling? Like your best wasn’t good enough – like the entire sum total of your efforts wasn’t adding up to diddly squat? Of course you have. It’s called failing. And we’ve all experienced it in some shape or form at one time or another.
I recently went through a week of failure. It started with a Week of Prayer which did not look anything like the vision I had for it; continued with a bad presentation on Tuesday and climaxed with a failed attempt at explaining the basics of the Sabbath to a co-worker. By Friday it had led me to a vexing question:
Does God sometimes intentionally let us fail?
No, don’t protest, just think about it. How else could I pray and do my best and still end up a loser? I had taken on Week of Prayer outside of my usual responsibilities? Didn’t that count for something? I had said yes to presenting even though I absolutely hate speaking in front of others. Shouldn’t God have blessed the efforts of my willing heart? In the past three months I’ve made a concerted effort to increase my devotion time and study God’s word so I could be ready to give an account. So what happened to the words that God was supposed to give me to say as He promised in Luke 21:14,15?
So based on this I have to conclude that sometimes God leaves the door open for us to fail. At the very least it seems like failure is inevitable even if you are walking with Christ. And I’m not just spinning wool here, people. I’ve got proof:
Proof # 1 – Botched Exorcism
Matt 17:14-21 : A man brings his son to Jesus to be healed because the disciples tried but failed to do it. Talk about your bad performance review. I can just imagine how the disciples felt. And you could tell they were embarrassed too, because they “…came to Jesus privately…” to ask him what they had done wrong. But wasn’t Jesus the one who had sent them out in the first place? Hmm. Let’s continue.
Proof # 2 – Peter and the Rooster
Matt 26:69-75: Peter denies Christ three times. Jesus told Him it was going to happen. And though Peter thought He would never deny Christ, when he heard the cock crow three times, and realized that failure indeed was his. Who was more committed to Jesus as a disciple than Peter? It seems like moments of failure in this Christian walk are inevitable.
Proof # 3 – 1844
Really? Need I say any more? I have a new appreciation for William Miller. I thought my failure with my co-worker was rough, but imagine studying and praying and prophesying the return of Jesus not once, not twice, but three times and being wrong all three. I cannot begin to imagine the feelings of despair that arose from the 1844 Great Disappointment. Miller prayed and studied for years to come up with the dates in 1843 and ‘44, so how could he get it so wrong?
In every situation there were good intentions. So what went wrong?
“Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!” – Matt 18:7 ASV
The second part “…for it needs be that the occasions (of stumbling) com;” was what caught my eye. Are you telling me that occasions of failure are inevitable? But why? Here are a couple suggestions:
To reveal to us what is in our own heart
Sometimes it is only through failure that we see our own pride and devotion to self. At times these can even be disguised as zeal for Christ, but in the face of failure the difference it is clear. But as our own selfish motives lie open before us, we have the chance toe let Christ exchange them for humility and meekness.
So God can fulfill his purpose
Ministry of Healing p 489 reads”…He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ…Nothing can touch him except by the Lord’s permission. All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us…”
To help us stay dependent and keep us humble
As one writer said, “Our short-changed prayer life is a warning signal, but we find that easy to ignore. Failure is much harder to ignore.”Another points out that self-confidence can be a great hindrance to God using us. But there’s nothing like a touch of failure to send us running back to God, submitting completely to His will and His guidance.
To test us and give us experience dealing with problems
Judges 3:4 reads “And they [other nations residing in Canaan] were left, to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah, which he commanded their fathers by Moses.” Frazee noted that as Israel entered the Promised Land God allowed many of the heathen nations to remain in Canaan and to prevail against Israel on occasion to test the loyalty of the newer generations of Israelites to God. Could God be using our challenges and failures to test us? To prove to ourselves and maybe to others our loyalty to Him?
As I lick the wounds of my own week of failure I have learnt a few things about myself, which in essence, was what God was trying to do all along – teach me. What is He trying to teach you?
Photo thanks to Bob.Fornal