We continue with our study of “Praying with purpose: a 28-day journey to an empowered prayer life”. Today we will be looking at day 18
“I have trembled and failed again and again, but God has never failed.” J. Hudson Taylor
Psalms 51:1-10 “Have mercy on me, O God; according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face form my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
We have to be a little cautious with the title, just because God can use our bad situations and turn them into something good does not mean that God is the author of our failures. However, God was not shocked by my bad decisions and my sins; He knew they were going to happen and only He can work out His purpose in our lives despite our failures.
We see in Luke 22:31-32 Jesus tells Peter “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew Peter was going to fail Him. But He also knew Peter was going to turn back. Peter became the first to preach to the Jews, we see that in Acts 2 and he was also the first to preach to the gentiles we see that in Acts 10.
Is there success and purpose on the other side of failure?
In Jesus there is. When Adam and Eve sinned did God declare a state of emergency in heaven? Did He pace around in a state of panic asking what do I do now? No, he already had a plan set up so that He could immediately promise to send His Son to redeem us all from our sins. He had the cure before there was a disease. We can see in Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” and Titus 1:2 says “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time”
Failure is a reality. In the Bible we have various examples of men that failed
Moses was a proud man. He was part of the Egyptian court, and he had a lot of knowledge of things. He was also a man that took justice in his hands (we see this in Exodus 2:11-12). The sin Moses committed cost him 40 years of exile in the dessert, and it left him feeling useless to God. When God talks to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) Moses asks God “Who am I?” This is a totally different person from 40 years before that thought he was a powerful and wise man. God uses a person that is contrite and humble. Even though Moses thought he was useless God said he was not.
God commanded him to go one way and Jonah went the opposite direction. Jonah must have thought to himself, “I don’t like these people (the Ninivites), these people aren’t my people, why does God want me to go to them? Forget this, I don’t want to do this.” What a lesson God had in store for Jonah. Just imagine the stench in the belly of a fish; the smell of the gastric juices would make him stink; imagine being in there for three days! When the fish spit him out people must have been running away from Jonah at that time from the stench. Was Jonah a faithful man? No, but God still used him. Remember this, God’s purpose will come through no matter what!
Peter told Jesus, even though everyone denies you I will not, but Jesus knew Peter would deny, blaspheme and curse him.
What can we say about King David? He loved God, he sang praises to God, but he fell. Even as a Christian it is shameful to us to read about the things he did. David must have wondered “Will God use me again? Will God restore me?” Of course he felt shameful afterwards. Remember, sin has its consequences. David had to flee because his son Absalom wanted to kill him (we see this in 2 Samuel 15). It is important to know who God is in your good times so that when your dark days come you will remember who He is. In Psalms 51:8 David says “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice” In verse 10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Then in verse 13 “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”
Real life experience with a 17 year old girl
In the book the author Stephen Rummage talks about a 17 year old girl that is an excellent student, very active in church, never missed Sunday school, went on mission trips in summer , she had pledged to remain sexually pure until marriage. However, she had to have a conversation with her youth pastor to let him know that she was three months pregnant. Her concern is “I don’t see how it can ever be the same.” She wondered is there a future for me? God forgives and restores; God knows our heart and He can still use us.
How does someone that has gone through failure feel?
Humble, heartbroken, your ego is deflated, you feel like your reputation is gone. This is why it is hard to admit to failure. And if you think that you will not fail remember what 1 Corinthians 10:12 says “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” In Luke 22:62 we see that Peter went outside and wept bitterly after he remembered Jesus’ words that he would deny Jesus three times.
Is there a positive side to failure?
1. Restores our purity. David prays in Psalm 51:7 “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
2. We have a better understanding of the depth of God’s grace.
3. We are more sensitive toward others. Someone that used to be using drugs can understand someone that is trying to get out of that lifestyle. Someone that has gone through a divorce can understand the pain someone that is going through a divorce is feeling.
4. Failure makes us more humble. In Proverbs 16:18 we read “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” In John 21:15-17 we see where Jesus asked Peter three times “do you love me?” By the third time Peter said “you know all things.” Jesus wanted to continue to use Peter even though he failed Jesus.
5. Restores our closeness to God. David prays in Psalms 51:11 “do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” This is the cry of a prodigal son that desperately wants to come back home.
When you fail you try harder; you get up and try again. Remember that there is no victory without having to go through a battle. Also remember that your failure is not the end!
Thomas Edison was working on a new invention called the lightbulb, it took him and an entire team of men many hours to put just one together. There is a story that says when Mr. Edison finished one lightbulb he gave it to a young boy to carry it to another friend across town. The young boy was a little nervous carrying such an important contraption, however, the young boy ended up dropping and shattering this lightbulb. Mr. Edison and his team worked again to make another bulb. It’s told that his wife told him to not give the bulb to the same young boy again. But Mr. Edison said, “who better than he to carry the lightbulb? this young boy will be more careful this time.” Someone that has failed understands the gravity of situations better than someone that has not failed.
“God can restore our failures. Michael Jordan appears in one of my favorite TV commercials. The camera follows Jordan as he walks toward the locker room. We watch him moving in slow-motion, with a voice-over that says, “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot—and missed. I’ve failed.” Arguably Michael Jordan has been history’s greatest basketball athlete, yet he says, “I’ve failed.” Those words are extremely hard for an athlete to say. Those words are hard for anyone to say. Failure is disappointing and heartbreaking. It lets the air out of the ego and takes the sheen off our reputation. Who wants to admit to failure? Jordan admits, “I’ve failed,” but at the end of the commercial, he expands on his failure: I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
How do we get up?
- Realize you did something wrong
- Ask for forgiveness
- Believe your Father will forgive you
- Return back to God so you do not keep committing the same sin.
- Act today do not wait for tomorrow
Stephen Rummage states in his book that he went to preach in South Carolina, he went to visit the Good Samaritan Colony, a substance abuse center for men in the town. Mr. Rummage went on a tour of the facility; he states in the book “My guide took me step-by-step through the process, as the men stripped off discolored finish from old pieces of furniture, repaired what was broken, and applied new stain and varnish. The products were more beautiful than most pieces of new furniture. The man who was giving the tour had been a resident at the center before he was trained and came back to be a supervisor. As I admired an antique chest of drawers, he observed, “As we restore this furniture, it reminds us of what God is doing in us. We’ve all failed. But God gives us second chances.” God’s grace is able to restore after failure.”
He chose to use evil to accomplish His purpose – His glory through our redemption in Jesus. Once we confess our sins and are cleansed from our sins, God will make the necessary fix for our future, in spite of our failures. For a believer in Christ our failures do not have to be fatal or final. Remember your failure is not the end.
Transcribed by Dr. Elizabeth Stone