What to Do when You Fail

Failure in life is inevitable. No one is perfect, and we will all mess up. The question is, how do you respond to failure? Click here to find out!

This week, I failed a test. A big test. A midterm exam, to be precise. When I say “failed”, I mean actually failed. Not “Oh I failed according to my standards…which is under a 90%”. I got an embarrassingly low mark.

Failing a test is unusual for me. In my three years of college, this is the first exam I’ve failed. I’m an A’s student. All my other midterms went really well. Failure isn’t an option I give myself.

I decided I wasn’t going to have a pity-party for myself. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of life, I couldn’t feel sorry for myself, I couldn’t change what had already happened. I “got over it”.

Two days later, I just felt like a failure at life. I was behind in another class, behind in cleaning my apartment (I need to have a clean apartment to basically function), and totally unmotivated to do school. Unmotivated to do life, really.

While walking to the bus stop, I was praying. I’m not exactly sure what I was praying. Pretty much just being sad before God. My heart was crying out for something, even if my mind wasn’t aware of it. Suddenly, God spoke these words to my aching heart: the joy of the LORD is my strength. Yes.

On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3)

Without realizing it, we start to get our strength from other things. I mean, we do our devotions and pray and go about our day. But do we actually daily claim God as the sole source of our strength? When we do well in school, we are motivated to keep going. But what happens when we don’t do well?

I had prayed before that test that God would help me to pass. I had studied and I really cared about this test. But He used my failure to teach me something. I realized that I hadn’t been relying on God fully for my strength. I was getting the strength and motivation to keep going from my successes rather than my Father.

There’s nothing wrong with finding satisfaction in a job well done. But there will be times when you don’t do as well as you want. When that happens, you lose your strength. But God’s strength remains steady despite our circumstances.

The joy of the LORD is my strength. The joy of God is unconditional and cannot be impacted by our circumstances. When we find our strength in His joy, we find that we can have strength through Him and rise above our circumstances.

If you feel like giving up in whatever you’re doing, pause. Take a deep breath. The God of the universe is on your side, and He always will be. His grace is sufficient for you. Your weakness only serves to bring Him glory. When we acknowledge our weaknesses and rely on God for our strength, He is honored and we become more intimate with Him.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

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When Serving Your Church isn’t a Privilege

As Christians, we know that serving in the church is expected of us. But what happens when serving isn't a privilege anymore, but an obligation? Click here to read about how to find joy in serving.

I was raised in the church. I went to nursery, Busy Bees, Sunday School, Tuesday night youth and Friday night young adults. I also go to a fair-sized church, which allows me to enjoy being a part of lots of different programs. I could get involved in lots of different ways, and I loved (and still do) being a part of a larger church family.

But somehow, I lost my identity as a Christian in there. I’m not sure how it happened, but eventually I forgot why I was there. I was serving, worshiping and fellowshiping, but occasionally I would wonder why.

Then doubts started happening. If I’m not sure why I’m here, does that make me a bad Christian? Aren’t Christians supposed to have purpose? Meaning?

I felt a little empty. Christians are supposed to be fulfilled because we’re the ones who have been saved and filled with the joy of the Lord! What’s going on here?

I realized that it’s actually quite simple. In serving my church, I was doing, but not experiencing. There’s a difference.

Sometimes we just get busy and lose our focus. We can get distracted by everything that has to be done that we forget the One who’s behind it all and that we’re actually doing it all for Him. I think we get really used to sitting back and watching the show instead of actually being in the cast.

Psalm 34:8 says,

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

The Bible tells us to experience God, not observe Him. We are to “taste” the Lord’s goodness and “see” His work. The dictionary defines the verb to see as this:

  1. Perceive with the eyes; discern visually
  2. Discern or deduce mentally after reflection or from information; understand

We are not called merely to observe the Lord’s goodness, but to reflect on it; understand it. I have served in my church, but how many times have I gone home after volunteering and thought about how God is working through me and everyone else at that particular event? How many times have I thanked God for what He’s doing in the lives of the youth as I serve them?

It’s so easy to just try to get through and get things done as we fulfill our roles as part of the Body of Christ. But eventually, we get burned out. We become weary. We get tired and wonder if we’re really doing any good or if we’re really making a difference.

In Galatians 6:9 – 10, Paul reminds us:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Paul repeats this admonishment in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 as well.

Next time you’re feeling tired from serving, remember that there is more to it than just doing. Ask God to help you experience His goodness and joy as you serve Him. The latter part of Psalm 34:8 says, “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” What you do will not be done in vain if done for the Lord and not for man.

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