There’s a really awful word in the English language. FAILURE. Sitting here, writing this blog post, I can’t think of a single instance where one can use that word in a good way.
F is for failure
Failure. A seven-lettered word that conjures up images of opportunities lost, of disappointment, of mistakes made, of effort gone unrewarded, of dreams shattered… nothing good. Failure has a negative impact on us; it makes us feel incompetent, like we’ve achieved less than the opportunity or our potential allowed… nothing good. It is the antonym of success, a term we’ve been taught to respect from when we are young. Absolutely nothing good.
No one sets out to fail. No one likes, or even wants to fail. There are occasional ‘success’ stories of how some people, with the memory of their failure fueling their passion and drive, have risen from the proverbial ashes and gone on to achieve much. This is rare. Failure is usually a millstone that causes us to sink rather than swim. And yet, failure is universal.
We all face failure at some point in our lives. As children of God, what is our response when faced with a devastating setback? In the Bible, we are commanded to have life and have it abundantly. How do we rise above our failures and ride the waves to the victory He has promised us?
A life of failure turned into a life worth living
Consider Rahab, a prostitute who lived in Jericho, when Joshua and the desert-wandering nation of Israel waged war against it. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Rahab, but it does tell us that she had a house on the walls of the city (Joshua 2) and that she was a very brave woman. Though prostitution in her time may not have been as much of a taboo as it is today, it was certainly not a girl’s ideal dream. Things had gone drastically wrong in Rahab’s life. She was not the beloved wife and mother in a home, instead she was a practical businesswoman who, by the very position of her house, was on the fringe of society. Her life was a failure. Look how easily she gave up all that she had worked for in exchange for a new start (Joshua 2). Certainly her life was not all that she would have wanted. She needed a way out and God was the only one who could give her that.
God orchestrated an innocuous opportunity that not only saved her life and those of her family members, but also allowed her to lead a fulfilling life. She sheltered the spies that Joshua sent to Jericho and struck a deal with them in exchange for the safety of her family. When the walls of Jericho came down, Rahab and her family were spared (Joshua 6:25). Her past was not a problem, she was welcomed back to community, she got married, had atleast one son that we know of (Mathew 1:5) and lived the rest of her days under God’s protection and peace. Her family tree was not ordinary. King David and ultimately Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself, are descendants. Not bad for a former prostitute, right? When God says abundant life, he really means it. Rahab’s life turned from failure into one that was soaked in God’s blessings.
What can we learn from Rahab’s story about how we can overcome our disappointments and failures and allow God to work His will in our lives?
- In spite of her circumstances, Rahab did not lose hope. Hebrews 11:31 says that by faith Rahab was saved. It is important, above everything else, to remember that God is able (and willing) to help us. No matter how many times we fail or how great our disappointment, God sees us and knows what we are going through. He is our loving Father. We must believe and trust Him to lead us to good things as long as we keep our eyes on Him. God has a plan for your life and that He will see you through if you let Him.
- Faith results in right actions. When we keep our faith, we will be moved to take action, one step at a time, which will lead us away from our desperate circumstances. God created an opportunity for Rahab and she acted. She walked through the door that God had kept ajar for her. The spies didn’t go to someone else’s house, they went to her house. God arranged this apparently fortuitous meeting and because of her faith in who He is, she chose to act. As a result, she was richly rewarded. James 2:25 tells us that Rahab was saved by faith and actions. He does the same in each of our lives. Not all opportunities are from God, but you need to recognize God-at-work and move according to His will when the time arrives.
Without faith, we cannot please God. Faith without actions is dead. So don’t let temporary distractions and disappointments rob you of living the life God intends you to have. When failure comes knocking on your door again, remember that though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. Keep your eyes on Him, and your heart encouraged. God is at work in your life.