The Benefits of Failure

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Failure is part of life. Fear of failing paralyzes some people so much that they seek to avoid it through inaction. Procrastination can be a result of fear of failure. Failure is a common experience; something shared by everyone.

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. 

~ Henry Ford

From the beginning of life, there was failure. They were surrounded by perfection. The Garden of Eden was a perfect home. They had a perfect marriage. Their Father was perfect. Yet Adam and Eve failed to do the one thing asked of them. The results have been tragic for them and everyone who came later. Through their failure, death entered the world. Death can be considered to be the ultimate failure.

Throughout the Bible we can see failure and its results. Only one person is presented as never failing. I am glad that God has an abundance of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. There will come a time when He will do away with death, “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire . . .” Revelation 20:14 (ESV).

Failure can be seen in the Children of Israel. Even though they saw God do miracles, they refused to enter the land promised by God because they were afraid of failing to have a victory over the inhabitants. Moses also failed. Moses became angry and struck the rock God had told him to speak to in order to produce water. David showed failure when he put the Ark of the Covenant upon a cart, when he took Bathsheba, when he murdered Uriah, and when he numbered the people after God told him not to. In an amazing testimony of God’s mercy and grace, God said about David that he was, “. . . I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” Acts 13:22 (ESV).

The Apostle Peter denied even knowing Christ when Jesus needed him most. Despite Peter’s failure, Christ demonstrated His mercy and grace when He restored Peter as one of the Apostles. Jesus never condemned Peter for his failure. Jesus was not surprised by Peter’s actions, “‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me’” Luke 22:31-34 (ESV).

I, too, have failed at times. Before the burst of the housing bubble, I thought I had planned for my retirement by buying five houses. I lost all of them when the housing bubble burst. I had smugly, perhaps self-righteously, concluded that I was impervious to indebtedness. I would repay any debt that I incurred. Because of my great losses, I was unable to keep my word. Through foreclosures or short sales, I lost all of these houses and my reputation. Although, I am not totally destitute, I am totally dependent upon others for financial support. This chapter of my life is incomplete. God has not written the final word.

Your failures may be dramatic or they may be small. Regardless, God does not condemn you. He even forgives and restores people who have committed egregious sins. I do not think that we will ever understand the depth and breadth of love that God demonstrates because of His grace, mercy, and forgiveness for our failures, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all= the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” Ephesians 3:17-19 (ESV).

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

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