How we handle failure is just as important to God as knowing how to "live in victory". There are some very important principles which must be fully understood. 

Firstly. Why do we fail ? 

  1. The most important reason for failure is Sin. This could be either our own sin or that of another in the Body of Christ. This must be clearly understood. Our sin affects others and their sin affects us. We are a body, joined together, whether we want it or not. What happens to one part of the body affect the rest of the body (1 Corinthians 12:26). Sin in the Body of Christ will cause us to fall.
  2. Spiritual attack from demonic forces can cause us to fail at times. This is important to understand. Not all failure is caused by sin. Sometimes it is a direct intervention of fallen angels. Consider the case of Daniel, who prayed for 21 days (Daniel 10:1-13). His answer came eventually, but the messenger of God was hindered by the angelic rulers of this world.
What happens when we do fail ? 
  1. Firstly we must fully understand that God has made provision for our failures. In his wisdom He has allowed for our weakness through the death of Jesus on the cross. When God made man he foresaw the possibility of sin and allowed for it in his planning.
  2. We must also understand that God's plans are not disturbed by our weaknesses. In His fore planning God foresees opportunities afforded by human failures. Consider for example the situation of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis Chapter 37 to Chapter 41). His brothers did evil in selling Joseph into slavery, but God used it as an opportunity to bring Joseph to Egypt where He wanted him to be. Potopher's wife did evil in falsely accusing Joseph of raping her, but God used this opportunity to place Joseph in a prison which would teach him patience, humility and wisdom. Eventually God maneuvered the circumstances to place Joseph where he was meant to be as Prime Minister of Egypt. In this position God could use Joseph to protect the new born nation of Israel while it grew to maturity. 
  3. Failure builds character. As was pointed out before Joseph grew as a result of many human "failures". His youthful arrogance gave way to mature faith in God during his long years in prison. It was only then that God could really use him.
  4. Failures bring us closer to God. When we fail we realise that we have been relying on our own ability and righteousness. This is the lesson that Job learned. His righteousness was based on "works" and not on a relationship with God. God showed him this by allowing failure to come into his life. It was through his experience that Job came to a personal relationship with God. As he said, "Before I knew you (God) only by hearsay, but now I have seen you for myself." (Job 42:5). Job learned about God's righteousness, which does not rely on our ability to do "good" or not.
  5. Failures bring out confession of hidden sin. Often we are not aware how far from God's will we really are until we fail in some endeavour. When we fail we begin to look seriously at what we have been doing. This can lead us to see some hidden sins which need confessing. Failures give God opportunity to clean up our lives as we confess our sin to him (1 John 1:9).
  6. Failure can bring about a change of direction in our lives. Sometimes we unwittingly deviate from the will of God, even when we believe we are doing what He has called us to do. When our efforts fail we begin to re-evaluate God's will for us.

Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.
Last modified: 18 - Sept - 1998.
Copyright © 1998, Graham Brodie.

Maintainer: Graham Brodie, Email