This morning I happened to come across a blog entry originally posted more than five years ago. As I read the comments that seemed custom-crafted just for me at this present time, I felt like David, who encouraged himself in the Word of the Lord. I thought this entry might also be a source of encouragement to others as well, and so I am re-posting this discussion of the term “failure,” as viewed from a different perspective. This two-part entry is based on Romans 8:35, 37:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Many times as I go through life and encounter situations that I do not totally understand, I will from time to time write down my thoughts while endeavoring to process the experience that I am going through. After some serious consideration, I have changed my thinking from accepting the duality of “either/or” to embracing concept of “both/and.” In the process I have gone from the designation of being a “total failure” to “not being as successful” as I would like to have been in certain categories.
I think of the lyrics to a powerful song called “Lessons to be Learned”:
Why did that right road take that wrong turn?
Why did our heart break, and why did we get burned?
Just like the seasons there are reasons for the path we take:
There are no mistakes, just lessons to be learned.
What are the lessons God is teaching me during this season of my life? I am a life-long learner, an ever-eager student in the University of Life, and I am continually learning more about God and my relationship with Him. For me, one of the verses that I so often share has become more than just a cliché. Romans 8:28 for me is “life verse”, a constant reminder that God is good and that all things work together for the good, no matter the circumstances.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
In the minds of many I am a failure. . . Does it really matter what “people say”?
Here is an-mail that I received that I will include at this point. Most providentially I received this email at a time when I was asking this very question in terms of my own perceived shortcomings.
What is failure?
Failure doesn’t mean that you are a failure;
it does mean you haven’t yet succeeded.
Failure doesn’t mean that you have accomplished nothing;
it does mean you have learned something.
Failure doesn’t mean that you have been a fool;
it does mean you have a lot of faith.
Failure doesn’t mean that you have been disgraced;
it does mean you were willing to try.
Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it;
it does mean you have to do something in a different way.
Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior;
it does mean you are not perfect.
Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your life;
it does mean you have a reason to start afresh.
Failure doesn’t mean you should give up;
it does mean you must try harder.
Failure doesn’t mean you will never make it;
it does mean it will take a little longer.
Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you;
it does mean God has a better way.
The Living Word Library © 1996 – 2008
The last line of the statement about failure brings to mind this poem:
We Pray—God Answers
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray,
believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
We pray, asking to receive and seeking to find.
If we knock, the door shall be opened all our days,
For God answers prayer in one of three sovereign ways:
Sometimes we pray and find that the answer is “yes.”
In Christ each promise is “yes” and “amen”,
For God is not a man that He should lie.
He has already spoken—What shall we say then
But give thanks, for when we call Him, He hears each cry.
Other times we find that the answer is “not yet.”
We need more patience so that after we have done
All the will of God, as sons we might be instilled
With confident assurance given to each one,
Set as an empty vessel, yet to be fulfilled.
Or God may say, “I have something better in mind.”
Before we abandon hope, feeling left behind,
Though it may seem we cannot pass another test,
But if we stop and think a moment, we will find
God, our all-wise Father, really knows what is best.
Success and its antonym, failure, are connected in this definition which introduces the last stanza of a familiar poem of great inspiration entitled “Don’t Quit.”
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
Here is a video adaptation of the words of this popular poem:
As I was thinking about the entire subject of failure and success, another poem came to mind, a very penetrating expression of the view of life through the eyes of the noted 19th Century poet, Emily Dickinson, who wrote these words:
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
In response, I wrote this poem to express my view regarding success in light of those who fail to achieve it:
I Have Sipped a Sweetness
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete,
but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race]
that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours.
Now every athlete who goes into training
conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things.
They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither,
but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness]
that cannot wither.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Amplified Bible
Said the fragile lady who never knew such bliss,
“Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed.”
In her enigmatic style went on to say this:
“To comprehend a nectar requires sorest need.”
Said the dark poet of another time and place,
I have sipped a sweetness beyond any honey,
The rush in the blood of the one who wins his race,
A foretaste of the glory to come that inspires
Self discipline to sublimate carnal desires,
Casting aside every weight, each besetting sin,
I press toward the mark, the prize now set before me
And run with patience the race I’m destined to win.
Then shall I know ultimate ecstasy of victory
And savor God’s goodness for all eternity.
In closing, let me make this final statement about what appears to be failure. I’m sure that if we scrutinized our lives closely we could easily be overcome by a sense of failure in light of the circumstances that surround us. We can take courage and be strengthened, however, by the example of someone whose life ended most tragically without apparent accomplishment of his mission. He died a shameful death, and those who believed in him, deserted him. Yes, Jesus Christ, in the eyes of the world was a disastrous failure at the end of his life. However, we know “the rest of the story,” and I am writing these words of exhortation to you because of his triumph over the worst possible circumstances—even death itself. Because he was a super-conqueror, in all these things we are more than conquerors.
So take heart, my brothers and sisters, and be encouraged. The best is always yet to come. So we must take heart and remember that when we experience what seems to be failure, that “a set-back is just a set-up for a comeback.”
I also take comfort in the timeless universal truth that “This too shall pass.” This expression is set to music and rendered in a most inspiring manner, as Yolanda Adams reminds us: