Failure is the true foundation of enduring success.
Failure is written into the very fabric of the gospel. When a man is determined to trust in God, he has to be ready to be a failure. He also has to be prepared to suffer violence and endure rejection. Even Jesus might call you a dog, but you must refuse to be discouraged. The crowd might try to shut you up, but you shout out the more.
You may fall asleep while reading your bible for the umpteenth time, but you simply get up and continue reading. You may break your fast a hundred times; but you continue where you left off. You may fall and backslide ten times, but you just get up, shake off the dust from your clothes and keep on walking.
If failure were a hindrance, a child would never walk. Just think how many times a child tries to walk and falls down before he finally walks without falling. What if he gives up after the thirtieth fall? No. Although he kept falling down, his failures were merely temporary setbacks on the way to successful walking. Therefore, failure is only a bus stop. Don’t get down. Don’t even stop. Failure is the way to good success.
The bible is a litany of failures. Abraham was a liar and an adulterer. Jacob was a supplanter and a 419 expert. Moses was a murderer and a bad shepherd. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Peter was a coward and a hypocrite. All these men were failures, but they refused to accept defeat.
Jesus himself was a monumental failure. In the popularity stakes, he soon became a joke. He preached and preached but few believed in him. People followed him for fishburgers and miracle healings, but at the critical juncture, those shouting “crucify him” prevailed over the hosannas.
Forced to make a choice, the people chose a common criminal, a thief called Barabbas, instead of him. All his disciples, without exception, deserted him. One of them betrayed him. Another one denied him not once or twice, but three times. Worst of all, the Father, who had been by his side throughout his ministry, deserted him on the cross. “My God, my God,” he cried. “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
A gospel for failures
The cross is a symbol of defeat and failure. The gospel of the kingdom is a gospel for failures. It is good news for those who have been defeated. Through the gospel, the wretched of the earth discover to their shock and amazement that God has always been on their side. The disciples were amazed. You mean a rich man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven? We thought God was on the side of the successful.
Jesus came and brought a completely different understanding. God is not a God of the successful. He is a God of failures. He is a redeemer to those who are lost and have suffered losses. He is not on the side of the strong, but of the weak. Indeed, God is the strength of the weak.
The foundation of good success
Failure is the true foundation of enduring success. A man who does not appreciate failure can never be truly successful. Before a man can realise the good success of God, he has to know the failure of man. He also has to relinquish the success of men. The first has to become last before it can become first in God. Good success is built on resilience. True winners don’t quit.
God is looking for losers. But he is looking for losers who refuse to be discouraged. He is looking for losers who refuse to accept defeat. He is looking for those who can endure failure. He is looking for the never-say-die. He is looking for those who, in hopeless situations, continue to hope. He is looking for those determined to snatch victory out of the jaws of failure.
To overcome defeat, we have to be defeated. To overcome poverty, we have to be poor. To overcome death, Christ had to die. To be immunised from an infectious disease, we have to contract a dose of the disease.
Yes, Jesus was a big failure. They arrested him and terminated his life with extreme prejudice. They nailed him to the cross and he died. But when they came back the third day, the tomb was empty. He had risen from the dead in victory, never to die again.
Jesus says: “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).