(based on RLCF Bible Study on February 10, 2016)
FAILURE – When going through failure, what is God’s perfect will for my life?
As a believer, how would you define failure? Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,…” Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God…” Paul’s mindset was “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14. God’s will is that we share the attitude of Paul and Jesus who both kept pressing on toward the goal until their last breath! We also know they did not strive to do it alone, but valued and drew strength from the prayers and fellowship of those the Father had placed in their lives. Failure can serve a very useful purpose in our life but it can also be very negative, demanding us to quit and to isolate ourselves.
We studied 2 Chronicles 14-16. In it, we saw that Asa began his reign as king well. “Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name….” (14:11)
Asa sought God in humble dependence and God gave him victory and success. However, later in Asa’s life we read that pride had crept into his heart and he considered himself strong enough to head into battle without asking for God’s help and direction. Is it possible for us to forget God amid our successes and prosperity? Can one start out building in the strength of God’s power and favor and end up building in the strength of their own might? Psalm 50:22 begins, “Now consider this, you who forget God,…” Based on the example of Asa we should take seriously this warning and be sensitive to signs that we might be heading in that direction. Most notably that anger begins to replace humility and brokeness in our life. Anger when we are confronted by God’s word and anger toward those around us.
Later in life, Asa was no longer living by faith, however God was kind and merciful in sending a prophet to give Asa a word of warning meant to help. A word that revealed to Asa that even though he was a powerful king, he had failed but there was still hope of rescue. Here is where we ask ourselves: how do I deal with failure, what is my reaction? I can acknowledge my foolishness (2 Chronicles 16:9) and repent or react like Asa. “Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.” 16:10
Have we reacted to sin, failure, coming short of the glory of God with anger and hardness of heart? Anger always is oppressive, even if we are angry with ourselves. Any type of anger that oppresses others is never God’s perfect will for my life! Yes, I should be grieved to tears over sin or failure but repent and believe that ‘The Lord is for me; I will not fear… Psalm 118:6 “….and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
Psalm 18:19 says, “He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Do we see God in this way in every one of our failures? It doesn’t say He delights to rescue us, but that He rescues us because He delights in us. May our Father open our eyes to see Who He really is!
In a recent article, professional basketball player, Landry Fields describes how failure and disappointment led him from idolatry to salvation! “If you struggle to believe God loves you, and God just keeps bringing trials into your life, don’t panic. They’re more related than you realize.” Fields was a rising star in the NBA when injury after injury led him to realize that the idol of success, basketball and fame was emptiness and bondage. “Like a meticulous watchmaker, God folded true faith into me through the creases of suffering, through all of the injuries, the waiting, and the disappointment.” Landry repented and came to know a Father in heaven Who loves him!
Another danger we are tempted with when we fail is to separate ourselves from everyone around us. Satan can use failure to cut off the very people who love us, pray for us and just like God delight in us and are delighted to help us. Self-pity is an insidious, horrible reaction to failure. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 encourages us, “Two are better than one,….If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”
We can see that in our experiences of coming short of the glory of God and even falling into sin – God loves us and we can be fully confident upon repentance that we will experience a father’s reaction like that in the prodigal son. (Luke 15) The father always loved both of his boys: the legalist and the backslider. It took repentance for the younger son to experience the love his father always had for him. But the angry, unrepentant heart of the elder son kept him from experiencing the father’s love. He realized in all his faithful service that he had failed to come into a loving, sharing relationship with his dad. In his moment of crisis he lashed out in anger and refused to come in and enter into his father’s joy.
If you are reading this today, your Father in heaven pleads with you and me to come in (Luke 15:28): don’t quit, forget what’s behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. Seek to build fellowship with those around who are loving and caring and praying for you!
May we live everyday working out our salvation with fear and trembling and in the truth that “He delights in you!”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus and say, “He delights in me!”