Faith and Failure
Dr. Doug Posey
Wrestling is hard. Don’t think professional wrestling like the “WWE,” or “WrestleMania,” but your competitive, olympic-style wrestling match. Have you tried that? I have great respect for those who wrestled on teams as their sport in school. I only remember once, back in high school in freshman P.E. class. I was out-matched, being a skinny, barely adolescent, late-bloomer, paired with a student who, although my age, had obviously been shaving for years. Within seconds of the coach blowing the whistle to start the match, I felt it was futile to resist, so I gave in, and was pinned. That embarrassing moment comes to mind every time I think about quitting, along with the coach’s puzzled query, “Why’d you QUIT…Posey?!”
What pushes you to the point of quitting? What is that situation, obstacle, or challenge, from which you’ve walked away in your past that now you wish you had faced instead of simply giving up? And maybe it wasn’t a simple decision, but you did abandon the effort and now you wish you hadn’t. We all likely have those “if only’s” and “I should’ve’s” in our lives. In looking back, what was the missing component?
Your past memory of perceived failure could have involved many things. It might have been a lack of support from those close to you. Perhaps people whose opinion you respected gave you words of discouragement. Maybe the task became too arduous and it didn’t seem worth the time and effort. But, besides missing the support, encouragement, time and effort you felt the accomplishment required, could you also have been missing the faith to get it done?
This isn’t a discourse on positive thinking. It’s not about repeating “words of faith.” The question is, where do you go when faced with failure? When you are about to be pinned to the mat, or you already have been, your choice for encouragement and strength to get up and face the next challenge with a hope for victory makes all the difference. Think of all the options you have. All you have to do is look at the world around you and you see there’s no shortage of wrong ways to deal with failure. But, there are also examples like the late Chuck Colson.
Colson had been successful as a captain in the Marines. He went on to pursue a career in law, where he experienced further success. He founded a highly successful law firm. Later Colson served as a counsel to the Key Issues Committee for President Nixon, which led to his becoming Special Counsel to the President in 1969. Few have seen the kind of success that Charles Colson had experienced up to that point. Not many know him for those successes. Unfortunately, the misguided methods he had learned to employ in attaining his goals would eventually catch up with him.
What launched Colson into the headlines was the most monumental failure of his life—his role in Watergate. On March 1, 1974, Colson was indicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate Hotel burglaries. A crime he helped orchestrate in order to discredit a leader of the anti-Vietnam War cause.
If you know of Chuck Colson, it may be only in the context of his vastly successful Prison Fellowship ministry, which continues to be the most successful outreach ministry to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. But, he pled guilty to his crimes, and on June 21, 1974, Colson was given a one-to-three-year sentence, along with a fine of $5,000. He served about seven months. Defeated, of course. But how did he get turned around?
A friend introduced him to the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis prior to his plea. After reading it, he came to Christ. He began to fellowship with other believers. His life truly changed. Though still facing failure, he was facing it with Jesus. And the rest is history. Chuck Colson finished well. Colson turned to God in order to get up off of the mat.
There’s a great contrast that illustrates the choice we have of turning to God when we face failure, or trusting something—or someone—less powerful and reaping the consequences. Just two chapters apart, 1 Samuel 28 and 30, King Saul and David each are faced with decisions. Both inquire of God. However, when Saul doesn’t immediately receive an answer, he turns to a medium! Needless to say, it didn’t end well for Saul!
By contrast, David, in 1 Samuel 30, also inquires of God. He follows God’s instruction and experiences an overwhelming success. Everything that had been taken by the enemy, David brought back. Everyone was rescued, just as God promised.
God keeps his promises. Every year brings successes and defeats; victories and losses. With this new year, choose to acknowledge God, in Christ, as your source of strength to stand! Don’t trust anything—or anyone—less powerful!
“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”
─2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10 NASB