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Monday, 4 August 2014

No such thing as "failure"

In the world, the word "failure" is a deadly word. "He's failed his driving test", "she's failed her exams", "he failed the probationary year", "she failed the interview", "his first company was a failure."

The very word  "failure" is meant to generate sad emotions while "success" is meant to put a smile on your face......

"Failure" is deadly because it's so terminal and hopeless: someone has set a standard of some kind and someone else has come short of the standard and as a result this person has somehow now become substandard, subhuman, whatever.

And what makes failure so difficult is that so often you just can't redo the event, it's now on your record, failure forever.

In the good providence of God what men call "failure" can turn out to be an opportunity filled with grace, an opportunity for God to demonstrate and pour grace into our lives and into that situation - no matter what it is.

The only time we ought to call a 'failure',  'failure' is when it fails God's standard - when it's a sin. To fail at marriage because we committed adultery is a proper failure, or to fail at parenting because we were deliberately negligent or violent is a proper failure. But even here, with true godly repentance, and the vast forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ, God can turn around these situations, pour in his grace and lead us on, to even better things. Where sins abounds grace more abounds.

But most of what we call "failure" is no failure at all in God's reckoning: it's a failure to come up to a standard established by men, not by God, and frankly in these cases we need to stop calling it 'failure' and start calling it a providential learning event.

If  we didn't pass an interview or a probationary year, we need to see these sorts of events as mere opportunities for personal growth and nothing more. God will use the experience, however painful, to glorify his name and teach us vital lessons.

Next time you are tempted to call an event a "failure" ask this question - does God view it that way? If not, no matter what the world might think, no matter what our peers might think, no matter what our families might think, change your thinking towards that event and think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow in grace.

"Many O Lord my God
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no-one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tll of them,
they would be too many to declare."
Psalm 40:5

We can even consider it pure joy when we face these kinds of trials and disappointments, because we know they are developing vital perseverance in our characters.