Everyone fails at one time or another, but its how we handle it really defines us.
That includes the men and women who are typically applauded every Sunday morning as “Bible heroes.”
Scripture, in fact, seems to go out of its way to spotlight the frailties and failures of its central human characters.
Moses was a murderer. The apostle Paul appears to have arranged serial lynchings. Abraham was a coward and a liar. Sarah was a vindictive schemer. David, “the man after God’s own heart,” was a murderer, adulterer, and consistently lousy parent.
Solomon, who was deemed the wisest man on the face of the earth, boasted 300 wives and 700 concubines – an astonishing relational track record that certainly calls into question whether he was in fact the wisest man on the face of the earth.
How about Jesus’ disciples? All of them seem to have been in the slow reading group.
The most spectacular church buildings in the world are named for apostles who sometimes failed spectacularly.
Author and pastor Tim Keller has said it best: “The Bible is the record of God’s intervening grace in the lives of people who don’t seek it, who don’t deserve it, who continually resist it, and who don’t appreciate it, even after they have been saved by it.”
In a fallen world, on this side of heaven, failure is inevitable.
But failure doesn’t have to be final. How we respond to failure is what actually shapes us. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Most of us dread the possibility of making a mess of things before the watching world. Fear keeps us from stepping out, taking risks, and attempting the audacious.
Such fear will never go away – at least, not if we want to grow. Everyone fails.
That’s because fear and growth are like chips and salsa. They go together. Whenever God beckons us into a season of growth and change, the fear of failure will almost certainly present itself.
Does it feel as if you’re always facing problems?
That’s a very good thing.
God helps us grow not by giving us the answers at the back of the book, but by providing problems that force us to choose between risk and comfort – between stepping forward and slipping back.
Wise people everywhere agree that the antidote to the fear of failure is actually rather simple: don’t walk away. Stay in the chaos. Courage grows, even by tiny increments, every time we decide to confront our problems instead of running away from them.
That sounds so simple. But of course it’s not always easy. Everyone fails.
What the Bible’s “heroes” discovered is that as often as they stumbled and got things wrong, their failures didn’t have to be final.
That’s because they learned the most important truth of all:
Even when they fell the hardest, God had their backs.