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)