We’ve established that failure is a real-world inevitability, and that we have reasons for failures—reasons that actually look to our long-term benefit. But we need a little bit more than these reassurances when we’re standing in the rubble of shattered dreams—when the marriage has been destroyed, the dream job has been torn away, or the children have broken our hearts. We need a few smooth stones, at least, to hold in our hand as we face the giant.

What ammunition is available to us in God’s Word?

Acknowledge Your Failure

First, we might as well stand up and admit it. It’s no good to call it something else—call it by its name, failure. You didn’t “select an alternate strategy path” in that big work assignment; you fouled up! You and your spouse didn’t have “irreconcilable differences.” Your God has already bridged the greatest estrangement there could ever be: the one between humanity and Himself. Do you really think that your “differences” were irreconcilable in His power? No, and for that matter, marriage never fails. God created it perfectly. It is people who fail. It sounds harsh, it feels uncomfortable, and yet the truth doesn’t care much for comfort; it promises only to set us free.

Before all else, we need to call a failure by its true name, and we need to borrow that sign from President Truman that says, “The buck stops here.” Going easy on yourself or passing on the blame shows a disrespect for your spiritual identity and godly potential. Own up to your failure. Step up to take responsibility. Then you can move forward. Living a lie doesn’t work, so wise believers deal with their past honestly before walking away from it.

President Truman, by the way, was once asked if he’d been popular in school. He replied, “No, I was never popular. The popular boys were good at games and had big fists. I was never like that. Without my glasses, I was blind as a bat, and to tell the truth, I was kind of a sissy. If there was any chance of getting into a fight, I took off. I guess that’s why I’m here today.”

The buck stopped with him, didn’t it? He owned up to the truth, embarrassing as it might have been. He was more right than he probably realized when he smiled and said, “I guess that’s why I’m here today.” Oddly enough, it is only those who honestly connect with their past who successfully walk away from it. Those who run away from the past are bound to it forever.

As you face up to your misfires, keep in mind that not every failure is sinful. Some things are out of our hands. They’re simply the product of living in a broken world. Job lost his family, his home, and all his holdings, but he committed no offense against God to bring any of it about. Jesus was seized, convicted, and executed, yet He lived a sinless life. Perhaps you’ve failed in the past despite the purest motives and godliest actions. Failure doesn’t always point to sin—at least not always your own.

On the other hand, of course, if you have disobeyed God in some way, the Spirit will make you aware of it. There will be no peace in your heart until you confess it and repent—which, of course, is the Bible’s way of saying that you acknowledge your failure.

Admit. Confess. Then you can look to the perfect forgiveness of God.

Accept God’s Forgiveness

Psalm 103:10 assures us that “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” The implications of that idea are profound for you and me. He doesn’t deal with you on the basis of your failures, but in the light of His grace.

David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life (Nashville, TN: W Pub., 2001), 178–179.


This article excerpted from Slaying the Giants in Your Life.

Slaying the Giants in Your Life is available on Amazon, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

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