Psalm 145:14 “The LORD upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down.”

What does it mean to be a failure? I know personally what it means to fail, I would regard myself as having perfected the art of failing.

I have personally found a myriad of ways to fail. From failing my family and friends to failing those I’ve tried to be a testimony to, it seems there isn’t an area of my life that isn’t marred by some legacy of negligence. I would list them all for you but I’d need a few pages to complete the litany of ways I’ve disappointed others.

Should I look back at my track record and wear it as a badge of shame or should I consider another reference point of judgement?

Psalm 37:24 “Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, for the LORD is holding his hand.”

If we were to make a list of our failures it would be overwhelming. When the Lord promises to ‘hold our hand’, He is promising us security.

When my children were very young I would hold their hands when we walked. Those dirty, sticky, little fingers where always touching something gross, besides the running noses or dried food, those little hands were simply disgusting. I would take those grubby little hands and hold them tight, invariably they would trip over a rock, stumble over a street corner, or simply get their little feet tied up together and over they would try to stumble….except…their daddy would pull them back up before they completely hit the ground. They didn’t always want me to hold on, they wanted to venture off on their own, independent of my care. When they fought so hard to break away, I would let them go and eventually the crash would happen, then I would have to pick them up as they cried, wipe them off and hold them.

When I reflect back on my children I am reminded that I need the same care today.

The Lord holds us as we go but it isn’t always a position we seek to remain in, sometimes we break away and fall flat on our faces. When we fall, He is always there to pick us up, forgive us, cleanse us by His mercy and lead us on.

Psalm 54:4 “Surely God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.”

Effects of Failure

Falling isn’t an experience that is easily forgotten, when we fail spiritually, it leaves a mark. We hurt others in the midst of our failures or we leave scars in ourselves from those times of learning. Our bodies carry with us the brokenness of sin, the abuse we heap upon shortens our lives, and our minds carry memories that leave us with shame that can be difficult to forget.

  • Remember God can use broken people. He has revealed this in my life and I’ve witnessed it in many others.

Psalm 42:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.”

  • Secondly, it is one thing to fall and yet be raised up, it is quite another to continue in that failure until death. For those who have committed their lives to Christ, our souls are kept by Him. He will lead us into the healing we desire if we will only hold on.
  • The sadness of failure can be turned into gladness, only by running to Him. We think we can make it on our own but are soon reminded that we are helpless without Him. He never left us, He was only waiting to pick us up when we fell.

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why the unease within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

True hope lies not in ourselves or our ability to walk in perfection, true hope comes when we see perfection in Christ before us and strive to attain what He calls us to.

We know that He is faithful, we know that He is fully capable to complete His work in us, and we we learn that He is not a fair weather friend. He loves us in spite of our failures.

There is a retired 4 star general in the U.S. Army that served as the first black secretary of state. His accomplishments included secretary general of joint chiefs of staff, national security advisor, and would have been America’s first black president had he chose to run for office in his day. He is the kind of man I listen to when it comes to succeeding and a short quote of his makes the point.

“There are no secrets to success, it is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Colin Powell

Moving from a position of constant failure to a pattern of success requires a game plan, the moxy and determination to not give up, and the wisdom to learn from mistakes as you get there.

Moving On

I can’t speak for everyone, everyone”s circumstances are different. All I can do is reflect on my life and what I’ve witnessed in many others; the patterns necessary for moving beyond your mistakes are strengthened when our focus is in the right place.

Psalm 77:10-12 “And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.”

If you have walked with God for any length of time you know His faithfulness. It is important to remind ourselves that He has been faithful in our past and He will continue to be faithful now.

As General Powell described, success doesn’t necessarily come naturally, it takes work and preparation. Meditating on how to apply righteousness in our circumstances, gives us the opportunity to apply it correctly. Wisdom is necessary and in God’s kingdom and there is plenty of that to be found, we just have to look. Talk with a brother or sister about a difficult circumstance and gain input before you make your move. Pray, meditate upon the Word of God and allow the Spirit of God to confirm a decision before you make it. It is this pattern of carefully seeking wisdom, applying that wisdom to God’s truth, and then establishing a foundation of prayer that leads to success.

Listen to the wisdom of Job:

Job 11:13-19 “If you would prepare your heart,
And stretch out your hands toward Him;
If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away,
And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
Then surely you could lift up your face without spot;
Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear;
Because you would forget your misery,
And remember it as waters that have passed away,
And your life would be brighter than noonday.
Though you were dark, you would be like the morning.
And you would be secure, because there is hope;
Yes, you would dig around you, and take your rest in safety.
You would also lie down, and no one would make you afraid;
Yes, many would court your favor.”

Do you see the result of simply being found faithful?

  • Fear is gone.
  • Your shame will flow away like the water.
  • Your darkness will become light.
  • Insecurity will become a steadfast spirit within you.
  • Rest
  • Safety
  • Honor

If someone has labeled you a failure, they judge incorrectly. You are only a failure if you reject Christ in your life and pass on into judgement. Life consists solely of our hope in Christ alone, loving God and loving others is the command, everything else is just a footnote.

We might fail momentarily but that doesn’t define you, your worth is found in God’s eyes and He sees value in you.

Get up and walk in the mercy and love of God, hold tightly to His hand and you will be strong for the journey.

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