One of the hardest things for me to believe is that my failures have purpose. Whether they are personal, professional, academic, or relational failure, they always have meaning. We never see that in the present, we always see it looking back. Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s easy to see the purposes of our failures when we look back because we are reaping the lessons that we learned from them. But how do we make our present outlook on failure one that sees it’s future purpose?
I took the GRE for the first time yesterday. I studied for two months for it. And after I hit submit, I saw my scores. I did horrible, horrible as in the lower 50th percentile horrible. I was frustrated, angry, and depressed. “How could this happen?” I asked myself. “I studied for months! I busted my butt and stressed over this to an unhealthy level! I did the workbooks, the notecards, the practice tests. How could I do so poorly?!” was my repeating personal motto for much of the afternoon after it was over. Then after a while I just calmly accepted it. I could have driven myself crazy with wondering why I did poorly. Maybe I’m a bad test taker, maybe I was having an off day, maybe I was stressed and I psyched myself out, I don’t know. But the inescapable conclusion is this: I did poorly, and now I have to step up and take it again in February.
Does this current failure have a future purpose? As hard as it is for me to fully trust it, I am sincerely trying to believe that. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for the good of those that love him. Can we really believe that? Without faith, we never truly can. Faith is looking ahead, looking to the things unseen and unknown, and trusting that God has our best interests in mind. So if you’re struggling with failure, give it up to God. If it’s personal failure, repent and get close to God. If it’s professional or academic, pray for wisdom in how to handle it and work hard. If it’s relational, ask for forgiveness, or be willing to forgive, and then do your best to work it out for the benefit of both parties. The lessons we learn from our failures are the most precious gift that we can get. God teaches us these lessons to draw us closer to him and to help us live so that he may receive glory from our redeemed lives. So if you’ve failed lately, remember that God will use it, and you will benefit from it in the long run. Jesus’ death at first looked like a failure, but three days later it was followed by eternities greatest triumph. Sometimes our efforts have to look like failures before they can be turned into victories. If we live afraid of failure, then we will never be willing to risk everything we have for the things we believe in.