Being Thankful in Our Failure
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT)
Look, no one likes to fail. And as a self-proclaimed overachiever and perfectionist, I super-duper HATE failing.
Just this past week, I had a really, really big and difficult licensing test. It was something I have been studying for over the past 9 weeks. So last Tuesday, while everyone was opening their Soul Deep devotion and sipping on their morning coffee, I was sitting in a small cubicle, laboring over 150 multiple choice questions.
And you know what? I failed. By two points. And I don’t know what stung more: the fact that I failed
after working so hard or the fact that I failed so close to the finish line. I knew that I knew the information, so why didn’t I pass? Sure I could take it again later in the week, but why didn’t God’s will line up with my knowledge on the first try? Why did it all happen the way it did?
That’s when I started to wonder: Why would God purpose something this way? Why would He allow me to fail, only to pass mere days later? What’s the difference between a few days? Why not just let me have the victory on the first try, especially when He knows that book-learning and academics is the one thing I have always prided myself on excelling in?
But you see, that’s the key– my pride. I love being a student. Even when I’m not in school, I’m learning something, picking up a skill, or collecting tidbits of knowledge. I graduated from college with honors. I hold academic awards and distinctions. I know my brain is one of my biggest strengths, just like an Olympian knows their power or agility is their greatest triumph.
But if I passed everything on the first try, just because my mind is strong and sure, then I would never need to rely on the Lord to carry me through, even when it comes to my book smarts. In our key verse, Paul writes to the Corinthians concerning the “thorn in his side,” which serves as a reminder in Paul's ministry to never stop relying on Jesus. Instead of becoming discouraged when Paul feels His weaknesses coming through, the Lord reminds Him to stand in His grace. God’s power and might are best displayed when we are weak; and where are our weaknesses best seen? When we fail at the very things we consider to be our biggest strengths.
You see, we all shrink away from failure because it hurts. Our pride gets damaged. We feel rejection and fear over taking other chances to avoid further damage. We try to protect ourselves from repeating the process. We try and separate ourselves from the feeling of failing as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
I felt that. I wanted to deny my failure and hide it. I didn’t want to live in it. But that’s why failure is so important; because in the moments that we want to hide from our shortcomings, we have a choice to turn to the Lord and hide in His grace. We have a choice to mourn our failures in His presence, and we have an opportunity to trust in Him to give us victory when we try again.
Because the next time you take your shot, you can bet that you’ll be trusting in Him and leaning on His understanding. Truth is, sometimes we need reminding that we need Him just as desperately in our strengths as we do in our weaknesses. Because even on our best days, our strong skills could never measure up compared to the power He supplies us with to supplement the skills He created us to have.
So yeah, I’m a brain, but my smarts could never carry me through in my own strength. I still need to rely on the One who has all knowledge and power. I still need to rely on the Teacher. I still need to trust that He will supply me with all wisdom.
Because I am weak, period. There is nothing about me worth noting if the Lord doesn’t stand with me. In the end, all of the things I put stock in or pride myself in will fade and fail me, but He never will.
So failure, although a tough hurdle to jump over, is something we should be thankful for because it only reminds us to lean on the Teacher. Don’t be afraid, friend. Jesus knows your heart and doesn’t want to see you torture yourself over falling short. Don’t hide from failure. Instead, bring it with you to the Savior’s arms.
Ask Him to come with you when you go to try again. Chances are, He’s just waiting for you to invite Him into the situation so He can prove His power in your weakness.
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