Coping With Failure

“Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).

Few things trouble us and keep us up at night than failure. In most instances, we meant well and wanted things to turn out fine, but they didn’t. We failed, and lived to pick up the pieces. But often failure injures our minds and undermines our confidence to attempt new things for God. We become identified with that mistake or failure, and then run to find a place to hide. But God’s Word speaks to this matter in addition to so many things.

When he denied Jesus, Peter turned away in tears, knowing he let down his Lord. But Jesus’ response reveals the compassionate God who knows our frames and sympathizes with even our failures. Jesus not only forgives Peter, but He recommissions him; He sends him out again. Those words must have been music to Peter’s ears. What about your ears?

Have you failed before? Join the millions who precede you. God responds to you much the same way He did to Peter. “Keep serving Me; I am not finished with you. I have yet more for you to do.”

Here are a few practical reminders:

1. If our failures define us, then we all are failures.
Many people struggle with this: They define their life by a past mistake or failure. Failure can turn us into wise learners, or paralyzed has-beens. But failure is not final with God. In fact, it often launches us into a more fruitful life. When we fail, we look to God; He has our attention. He picks us up with endearing compassion, dries our tears and then sends us back to His vineyard. In that case, failure didn’t define us, it refined us.

2. Let failure inform you, not haunt you.
Remember, in Christ the horror, judgment, and sin has all been removed:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

God does not whisper in your ear, “failure!” That tactic comes from the evil one. God reassures us of His forgiveness and then shows us new ways to glorify Him. We should learn from our past mistakes and not repeat them. But they should not torture us.

3. Get up, get ready, and get going!
As therapies go, few can beat action steps for their ability to cheer us up again. David sins, but returns to worship God. Jonah runs, but returns to preach. Peter denies, but becomes a great apostle. Trust in God, thank Him for His marvelous forgiveness, and then get back out in the fields, white to harvest.

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