Facing the reality of our failures can be one of the toughest experiences that we come to in life. As Pope Alexander once stated, “To err is human; to forgive, divine”. The general observations here is something that we can all identify with quite well. Failure meets us all in a variety of ways in life. It might be in a sudden job loss. It might be in the harsh realization that we had just missed a critical opportunity for success. Perhaps it is a goal to which we have been striving so hard, which seemed so close and attainable – which suddenly vanishes. And we sit there thinking, “How could I have been so blind?”…
Indeed we fail. We misinterpret. We misprioritize. And we wind up in places that we never thought we would. And as the shadow of regret looms over us, we are often left confused and disillusioned about where to go next. Working in the world of healthcare I can see that these troubles often sink people into a dark corner of depression.
How are we to live in light of our failures?
It has been quite amazing to me in these past weeks to be rediscovering the power of the Gospel to ignite a fire of passion and purpose in life that nothing else can put out. The apostle Paul himself came to the stunning realization that the whole passion and direction of his life was all for a cause that went against the God that he claimed to worship.
In a matter of a couple of days Paul’s entire life was turned inside out. Everything he believed and stood for was shown to be empty and vain. And yet he lived the second half of his life with a deeper and more fiery passion than he did before! How is this possible? How can someone loose everything they every lived for, get up, turn around, and live on as never before?
This is the crazy thing about the story of Jesus: God’s acceptance of us does not depend on our strengths and achievements and perfections. Rather, it is only when we hit rock bottom and see our nothingness before him that we can see all that he is. It is only when we see our littleness as finite humans that we see our infinite need of the one who caused this great world into existence. It is only in our weaknesses that we are made strong.
This is the power of the gospel in everyday life. In light of the sacrificial work of Christ on our behalf, as we face our failures, we are propelled to a deeper dependence on the grace of God and a deeper satisfaction in him. The weaker we are, the stronger we are. The less we depend on our selves, the more we understand our daily need in the grace of God.
The power of our failures shrinks as we face the power of the answers that the Gospel holds to build in us an unshakeable life of real and eternal value.
Knowing this, Paul is able to say,
“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”