Faith and Failure
Dr. Doug Posey
Wrestling is hard. Don’t think professional wrestling like the “WWE,” or “WrestleMania,” but your competitive, olympic-style wrestling match. Have you tried that? I have great respect for those who wrestled on teams as their sport in school. I only remember once, back in high school in P.E. class. I was out-matched, being a skinny, barely adolescent high school kid, paired with a student who, although my age, had obviously been shaving for years. Within seconds of the coach blowing the whistle to start the match, I felt it was futile to resist, so I gave in, and was pinned. That embarrassing moment comes to mind every time I think about quitting, along with the coach’s puzzled query, “Why’d you QUIT…Posey?!”
What pushes you to the point of quitting? What situation, obstacle, or challenge have you walked away from in your past that now you wish you had faced instead of simply giving up? And maybe it wasn’t a simple decision, but you did abandon the effort and now you wish you hadn’t. We all likely have those “if only’s” and “I should’ve’s” in our lives. In looking back, what was the missing component?
Your past memory of perceived failure could have involved many things. It might have been a lack of support from those close to you. Perhaps people whose opinion you respected gave you words of discouragement. Maybe the task became too arduous and it didn’t seem worth the time and effort. But, besides missing the support, encouragement, time and effort you felt the accomplishment required, could you also have been missing the faith to get it done?
This isn’t a discourse on positive thinking. It’s not about repeating words of faith. The question is, where do you go when faced with failure? When you are about to be pinned to the mat, or you already have been, your choice for encouragement and strength to get up and face the next challenge with a hope for victory makes all the difference. Think of all the options you have. All you have to do is look at the world around you and you see there’s no shortage of wrong ways to deal with failure. Then, there are those like the late Chuck Colson.
Colson had been successful as a captain in the Marines. He went on to pursue a career in law, where he experienced further success. He founded a highly successful law firm. Later Colson served as a counsel to the Key Issues Committee for President Nixon, which led to his becoming Special Counsel to the President in 1969. Few have seen the kind of success that Charles Colson had experienced up to that point. Not many know him for those successes. And the misguided methods he had learned to employ in attaining his goals would eventually catch up with him.
What launched Colson into the headlines was the most monumental failure of his life—his role in Watergate. On March 1, 1974, Colson was indicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate Hotel burglaries. A crime he helped orchestrate in order to discredit a leader of the anti-Vietnam War cause.
If you know of Chuck Colson, it may be only in the context of his vastly successful Prison Fellowship ministry, which continues to be the most successful outreach ministry to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. But, he pled guilty to his crimes and On June 21, 1974, Colson and was given a one-to-three-year sentence, along with a fine of $5,000. He served about seven months. Defeated, of course. But how did he get turned around?
A friend introduced him to the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis prior to his plea. After reading it, he came to Christ. He began to fellowship with other believers. His life truly changed. Facing failure meant facing it with Jesus. And the rest is history. Chuck Colson finished well.
Colson turned to God in order to get up off of the mat. Many don’t. In 1 Samuel, Saul and David are faced with potential defeat just a couple of chapters apart. King Saul, fearfully facing the Philistines initially inquires of God. But, not receiving an immediate answer, he “said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium that I may go to her and inquire of her.’” (1 Sam. 28:7). No surprise, it didn’t end well for Saul.
Later, David and his men come to one of their cities to find it burned and their people, including David’s wives, taken captive. He and his men are so distraught, they weep until they can’t weep anymore. In contrast to Saul, David inquired of the Lord, saying, “‘Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?’ And He said to him, ‘Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.’” (1 Sam 30:8). And of course, “when David was done, nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves; David brought it all back” (1 Sam. 30:19).
The difference is facing defeat with faith in the One Who can actually help you stand again.
“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”
─2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10 NASB