The Right Way To Handle Failure

There is a right way to handle failure. Giants of the faith did it well and most of them came out with their faith in tact. Every patriarch struggled with failure. So did King David, King Solomon, and the Apostle Peter. Proverbs says, “The righteous may fall seven times but still get up, but the wicked will stumble into trouble.” For reasons such as overestimating or underestimating sin, the unrighteous can’t move past his mistakes. He carries them over his shoulder and the weight grows heavier as they accumulate over a lifetime.

What can I learn from my spiritual ancestors about the right way to handle failure?

See It As God Sees It. 

He will tell me how bad it was. No more, no less. He will pass on to me a spirit of repentance so that I may feel the gravity of it – one that matches His own but He will also pass on the joy of forgiveness and the expectation of a restored relationship. The apostle Peter was, for a short time, crippled by his sin of denying Christ. I’m sure he felt that he had disqualified himself from ever serving God again. Yet, Jesus orchestrated a moment on a beach when confession, repentance, and restoration became personal. They sat inches apart and Peter struggled through with the dynamics of a severed friendship; failure to hold eye contact, fear of rejection, fear of never knowing forgiveness but then fearing he wouldn’t be able to accept it if offered. Not until he accepted full forgiveness could he press in to explore redemption. And what a redemption it was!

The one who teaches me most about how to handle failure is King David. Many today struggle with the favor God continued to bestow on David.  God called him, in spite of such utter moral failure, ‘a man after my own heart.’ Didn’t God think David’s sin was serious? The label God gave David was not related to whether or not he sinned. It was related to his response to sin. The prophet Nathan was sent to confront, to bring conviction and judgment. When faced with the truth, David immediately owned what he did. No excuses or blame shifting. The next act recorded was David’s prayer of repentance.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Psalm 51:1-3

God didn’t refer to David as ‘the king who disappointed me.’ David was not Saul! The gravity of Saul’s sin was not that his sin disqualified him from God’s favor. It was the refusal to see it, repent, learn from it, and shun evil.

You can be a woman or man after God’s own heart if you treasure Jesus more than sin, more than your reputation, more than being right. I must ask for the courage to see myself, and my sin, the way He does. Then, trust in His unfailing love to forgive and wash away shame. The joy of restoration is so much better than the pain of self-inflicted self-condemnation.

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