by Keilah Jude
How are we supposed to grapple with personal failures? Why do we often feel like we are the failure, or even worse–like we’ve failed God? When we open the Bible, we find stories of men and women who failed terribly, yet God used them despite their shortcomings. Not only did God restore their lives, but He worked all things for their good (including the setbacks and personal failures). Proverbs 24:16 offers this wisdom: “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
Applying this to our lives, we need to recognize that if we fall, we must get back up. We cannot wallow in our failures, and stay down. You might have fallen due to past failures or traumas, yet the Lord is calling you to “rise again” from the guilt, frustration, and condemnation which has led so many to stay down and out. The Lord still has more for you to do, and through repentance and our willingness to rise up again to follow Him, He wipes our histories clean and keeps working in and through us towards the future. It’s not the falling down but the getting up again that ultimately matters. Consider some of the Bible’s biggest characters:
King David stumbled horribly—committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having her husband murdered to cover his tracks. But after being convicted through a prophet, David cried out to God for forgiveness and restoration.
David could have wallowed in shame and run away, giving in to guilt and turning away from God. Instead, he refused to quit, confronted his sin, and then continued serving God. God said David was a man after His own heart, an affirmation that came even after his failure (Acts 13:22). God responded to David’s plea for mercy and another chance. His mercy is there for us, too.
Peter had the privilege of witnessing many of Jesus’ miracles and being one of his closest disciples. Peter saw Jesus walking on water, feeding thousands, healing the sick, delivering the demon possessed, and being transfigured on the mountain. Yet, in Jesus’ darkest hour on earth, when people questioned if Peter knew Jesus, Peter cursed and denied even knowing him. Peter initially seemed to have quit by returning to fishing, surely feeling crushing guilt. But, Jesus found Peter once again in the very place that he first called him to ministry (which was fishing). Peter failed plenty but he was never slow to repent, and he received God’s mercy and restoration every time. Peter went on to become one of the boldest preachers and evangelists that led many to know Jesus. If you find that you too have found yourself in a place like Peter, you can be certain that God’s mercy and calling for your life are still available to you if you’re willing to receive them.
Samson was destined to be a man consecrated to God. The Holy Spirit was so powerful in Samson's life that he even killed a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5-6). God gave Samson great strength to defeat Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, but Samson fell by pursuing a relationship with a Philistine woman named Delilah, who betrayed him. After his capture, Samson prayed to God and God returned His strength, allowing Samson one final victory over the Philistines.
Like David, Peter, or Samson, the Bible says that your past failures aren’t the final word, unless you allow them to be. There is not one person in the Bible who sought God’s mercy and restoration and didn’t receive it.
The Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God doesn’t stop loving you based on your behavior, and He freely gives the gift of being in right standing with Him to all who are willing to turn (and return!) to Him. God can use a failure, but He cannot use a quitter. The enemy of our souls would like nothing more than to convince you that you’re beyond God’s calling on your life, and that God cannot restore you; but that is absolutely untrue. God promises that all who call on Him will be restored (Romans 10:13). If you are willing to rise up, your story isn’t over.
Keilah Jude is an actress and model that resides in the Chicago, IL area where she and her husband planted a church called Axess Church. She is a current graduate student at Wheaton College studying Bible and Theology. Connect with Keilah via www.KeilahJude.com.