Can believers ever have failures?
“Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Cor 2:14).
“In all (these) things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37).
A casual reading of texts like these would make an average Christian believe that he would never have any failure in his life. Though it is not the will of God that His children live in defeat, He does allow failures in their lives for their own good. The biographies and autobiographies of God’s men and women sketched in the Scriptures prove substantially that no one escaped the “discipline of failure.” Abraham the father of all those who believe, Peter the prominent leader among the twelve apostles, Paul the foremost teacher of Church truths, and name anyone for that matter, all had their share of failures. In my personal life and ministry victories have been too many and failures too few. But I can honestly testify that in my 50 years of walk with God (AD 2013) I have learnt more from my failures than from victories. An analysis gives me atleast five reasons why God allows failures in our lives—
To make us humbler
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). It is natural for us to be puffed up with pride when everything goes alright and successful with us. The grace of God is opposed to the pride of man (1 Pet 5:5b). God is too gracious to withhold His grace from us. If failure is the only way to make us bend and walk humbly before Him, He hesitates not to permit it in our lives. It’s better to fail and rise again than to forfeit the grace of God.
To make us wiser
When our lives are free from any kind of defeat or failure, we tend to ascribe our successfulness to our brilliance and wisdom in doing things. The Bible asks, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov 26:12). And it admonishes us, “Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom 12:16). Failures and defeats lead us to review our course and make us know that what we know is far less than what we know not.
To make us kinder
God severely deals with those who are hard on others but lenient towards themselves. The Scripture admonishes, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1). It was in a sense the failure of Peter which qualified him to minister to his brothers (Lk 22:32). The Almighty is the God of all “comfort” and the Father of “mercies.” He treats us gently in our trials and tribulations. When we taste His kindness we know how to treat our fellow-strugglers (2 Cor 1:3,4). Jesus “sympathizes” with our weaknesses compassionately because He Himself was tempted like us in everything (Heb 4:15).
To make us holier
“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again” (Prov 24:16a). Being a righteous man, he analyses everytime why he fell and avoids the causes. This way he becomes more and more righteous in practical living. Genuine and godly sorrow produces in us “earnestness… eagerness… indignation… alarm… longing… concern… and readiness” to see ourselves purified (2 Cor 7:10,11). Lessons we learn from failures help us stay vigilant against the enemy’s attacks.
To make us interdependent
We never realize that we cannot do it alone but we need each other until we fail miserably. No member in the Body of Christ is self-sufficient. Every member needs the support of others (Eph 4:15,16). Jesus sought the company of His disciples in the hour of trial. But Peter boasted that he would follow Jesus even if all would forsake Him. We know who went thro’ the trial and testing triumphantly.
Friend, let not any failure in life lead you to condemnation (Rom 8:1). Failure is not final. Failure can become a weight or it can give you wings. In the words of Henry Ford, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently!”