Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Enduring and Overcoming Failures – The Christian Way

            First and foremost, failures in a Christian’s life need not be considered as a surprise or an abnormality. Failure, also, need not be omnipresent in a Christian’s life. It is not mandatory that every Christian should experience failures. (In this short essay, I will address the failures of a committed Christian, who delights in loving the Lord and obeying HIS commands.)

            Am I qualified to deal with this theme? Failure has been my constant companion for several years. Hence I understand failure, not from an objective or a transcendent sense, but I understand failure and the nature of this evil from a very subjective sense (personal experience). So, yes, I am qualified to engage in this subject.

            To begin with, let me emphasize a facet of ‘failure.’ Some failures can be overcome and other failures cannot be overcome – these failures can only be endured.

            Certain failures are temporary in nature, these failures could be overcome:

                                    (1) Financial Losses could be earned or regained in due course of time.

                                    (2) Academic Failures could derail our plans by a few days/months/years. However, we could overcome this failure by subsequently succeeding in them.

                                    (3) Fleeting Ailments could be temporary failures but can be healed by the grace of God. 

                                    (4) Church Induced Failures: The church is meant to be a safe haven where love, grace, compassion, and care rules. But the church could abuse its members so much so that the abused Christians could suffer immensely. However, in due time, by the grace of God, the victims of abuse can forgive the abusers to regain their peace.

                                    (5) Parental Abuse: Some parents abuse their children constantly by deeming them to be failures. The victimized children are deeply damaged and plagued by these awful memories. These insults could be overcome when the victims allow God to work in them to forgive their parents.  

            Then there are permanent failures that cannot be overcome in the physical or the material sense. These failures can only be endured:

                                    (1) Terminal Ailments: Sicknesses such as Cancer, Alzheimer's, Autism etc. do not have a cure. Barring a miraculous divine intervention, these sicknesses ought to be endured.

                                    (2) Public Humiliation: When a person is humiliated in public for no fault of his own, he suffers a loss of reputation. A classic case in point is the ‘false accusation.’ If the false accusation is made public, and if the accused is incarcerated or rendered jobless, this person could be destroyed. His health could deteriorate and/or he could be depressed. In certain instances, being unable to bear with this failure, he/she could commit suicide.

                                    (3) Sudden Death: We cannot overcome the [sudden or unexpected] loss of our parents/ children/very good friends because they cannot be replaced.

                                    (4) Church Induced Failures: Christians insulted/abused by the church could renounce their faith in God. This has an eternal ramification.

                                    (5) Betrayal By A Loved One: When your loved one betrays you (e.g. when your spouse leaves you for another or accuses you falsely or when your loved one does not love you anymore and disengages from the relationship by not caring or devoting time and effort for the relationship) and if this relationship exists for the sake of the world, then the victimized partner ought to endure this failure until the very end.

            Does the church address failures adequately? The key word is ‘adequately.’ The church in many instances performs a lip service to this evil that plagues its members. Consequently, the members who worship at these churches continue to suffer.

            How often do you hear this theme preached from your pulpit? Renowned Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, says “I have been a Christian for over thirty years. I estimate that in my Christian lifetime I have attended upward of a couple of thousand church services, hundreds of chapels at Wheaton College, and scores of Christian meetings at retreats, conferences, and so on, held by Campus Crusade and other groups. Yet during this entire time I have never once—not a single time in the thousands of meetings over some thirty-odd years—heard a speaker address the subject of failure.” (Emphasis Mine).1    

            Christian Counseling is meant to help alleviate the pain of those suffering. However, it has become a brutal business or a hoax, in this day and age. Quite a few Christian counselors are more interested in gossiping about their clients/patients than earnestly serving them. These counselors are unable to empathize with their clients.

            But of course, there are some faithful Christian counselors who serve God and HIS people to the best of their God-given abilities. They are God’s channels of healing. 

            Allow me to digress momentarily. The church is gradually becoming ineffective. The church delights in legislating against various sins so much so that ‘grace’ takes a back seat. Often, the church falls in love with its laws because it is easier to be legalistic.

            If the church is to practice grace, it needs to take the long and arduous road of being gracious with its people. While doing so, it may face stiff opposition from its more prominent and powerful law-abiding leaders/members, who proclaim their so-called super-spirituality with gay abandon.  

            Suppose a member is in sin and is struggling to renounce. The church, in this instance, can graciously help this member to renounce that sin. But many churches shame the sinning member in public by impulsively and recklessly punishing him/her. The verse “God loved us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8), which was so relevant to those leaders who indulge in such punishments, is forgotten and relegated to the darkest corners of their minds.

            When a member sins and when he/she is punished and shamed impulsively and publicly, the church has then willfully deemed the sinning member as a failure. God delights in loving us and in HIS perfect love and grace, HE engages us to restore us. God does not delight in deeming us as failures.

            What do we do when we fail?

            Do not lose hope. When you are suffering, you may lose your health, reputation, your family members may disregard you, and your friends may betray/abandon you.  Fear not! Even when you do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, do know that in your utter darkness, you are not alone, but God is with you.

            Trust in God. Don’t ever stop trusting God. Trust God even against all odds – even if everything is going wrong for many many years. This is mandatory. The moment you stop trusting in God, you are by yourself and that’s a recipe for disaster.

            Trust God’s people. God will bring HIS loyal servants to serve you. These people are a minority. Accept their service with a grateful heart.

            Pray without ceasing. Continue to plead with God for deliverance. But while praying do not give deadlines to God. You are not God to give HIM deadlines to deliver you.

            Praise God while you are praying. Look around you, even while you are suffering. You will find several reasons to thank and praise God. Be ever grateful to HIM who watches over you.

            Relax and Refresh. If you are not enduring a terminal ailment, then God may provide you with opportunities to relax and refresh even while you are experiencing severe trials and tribulations. These opportunities could come in the form of taking short vacations or playing recreational games/sports or watching clean and entertaining sports, movies or TV series.   

            When we encounter failures, how do we trust and hope in God?

            Think about the Lord Jesus Christ, for a moment. Jesus came to save all of mankind. But did HE save all of mankind? No! HE did not!

            While HE lived, HE was rejected by many of HIS disciples. Even today, the unbelievers of Jesus outnumber the believers.

            So was the life of the Lord Jesus Christ a failure? Did God not know what HE was doing?

            Some people may argue that Christ was a failure if they observe Christ’s ministry from a worldly or a temporal sense. However, a deeper study of the Lord’s ministry will reveal that HIS ministry was and is an outstanding success – despite the presence of a very large number of unbelievers.

            Therefore, if we look at failures from a temporal sense, we will certainly be discouraged and depressed. But the life we live on this earth is fleeting or momentary when compared to our lives that we will live unto eternity with God.

            Finally, we are not alone in our suffering. We do not worship a God who is firmly located in heaven. Rather we worship a God who suffered and died for us. So HE knows what we are going through. HE will either deliver us or will enable us to endure our suffering while it lasts.

            By the grace of God, when we fix our focus upon HIM and HIM alone, we would be able to say, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV).


1, last accessed on 25th July 2018.

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