Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seeing Purpose in our "Failures"

Failure is usually something we try to avoid.  Yet, there are some good reasons for failure - and reasons why things don't always work out the way we think they should.  First, though, we must understand that what the world sees as failure may not be "failure" at all.

Take the Apostle Paul, for example.  He had some huge "failures" in the world's eyes:
  • While he was spreading the Gospel about Jesus to the Gentiles, he found himself on a trip where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! 
  • On the second half of his trip, he got very sick in Galatia.  
  • Then, even though he felt that he should go to Asia to share the Gospel, the door was shut and he couldn't go.  After this seeming failure, he and his team headed for the coast.  
  • Eventually he ended up being beaten.
  • He was imprisoned many times. 
  • He was falsely accused and rejected by many.
Yet, would any of us dare to say Paul's journey was a failure?  Didn't God use Paul in a mighty way, in spite of what would seem to be failure after failure, to spread the Gospel to millions and pen two-thirds of the words written in the New Testament?  We can learn something from Paul's example.
What if Paul had given up?  What if he said "Well, I've obviously failed.  God cannot use me now.  I should just get out of this ministry and out of God's way so He can use someone who can actually be used by God without failing Him all the time."  No...Paul didn't do that because he didn't focus on his failures!  He focused on his purpose - his reason for doing what he was doing.  He did not fail to keep his focus on Christ. 

What is your focus on this Resurrection Sunday?  What do you think defines you?  Your failures or your successes?  Neither of those define you - Jesus Christ alone does.  Remember....the world looked at Christ's death on the cross as an epic failure!  And yet, we now know...His death made room for His resurrection and that is what brought us the greatest victory of all - new life and salvation!

Just because things don't seem to be working out the way we think they should, that doesn't mean we are a failure in God's eyes.  What seems to be an epic fail to us can be a very good thing.  We can learn from our mistakes, move forward and continue to persevere in spite of whatever it is that seems to have taken us off the path we thought was the right way to go.

In the Bible, I've noticed that most of the time when God is telling us about failing, He talks about us failing to see, failing to hear, failing to trust.  Not failing in life.  Let's not miss the lesson God is teaching, showing and telling us through our times of difficulty!

Failure may feel like a death of sorts and in a weird way, it kind of is like a death.  But without death, there would never be a resurrection and new life! Whatever it is you think you've failed at - look at it from a different lens today.  Maybe it is an opportunity to grow, to learn, to grow stronger and to allow Him to refine you.  When something doesn't go the way you plan, it is not the end of who you are, but the beginning of who He wants you to be. 

What the world sees as a failure, God sees as an opportunity for us to begin a new thing.  And that new thing is always the better thing! When we are focused on our purpose instead of our failures, we see past the world's perspective right into the beauty of God's eternal perspective. 

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