Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Failure’

 

Digital StillCamera

 

My knowledge of boat parts is limited, but this much I know: throw an outboard motor in the water; it will sink. Throw a propeller in the water; it, too, will plunge to the bottom. So will seats, cleats, and other parts. But when they are assembled together on a strong hull, the boat floats.

Similarly, our lives are comprised of a variety of experiences: some heavy and hurtful, others light and joyful. When properly assembled as a whole, they create a life that floats, and one that’s headed on a course toward worthwhile purpose.

Proper assembly of negative as well as positive events requires the trait of resiliency—the ability to press on through setbacks again and again.

Do those words, press on, sound familiar? The great missionary-adventurer, Paul, said he pressed on toward the goal of becoming what God intended for him (Philippians 4:12-14).  Paul is a worthy case-study for resiliency.

Saint_Paul,_Rembrandt_van_Rijn_(and_Workshop?),_c._1657

(The apostle Paul by Rembrandt)

 

He suffered plenty of hurt, disappointment, and failure. For example, Paul was:

  • stoned (Acts 14:19),
  • flogged and imprisoned (Acts 16:23),
  • unjustly charged with treason (Acts 18:13),
  • nearly killed on at least several occasions (Acts 21:30-31), and
  • rejected by many, even after brilliantly preaching about God and his Son, Jesus (Acts 17:16-34).

 

How do you bounce back from such defeats? Researchers have identified the following ways to cultivate resiliency:

 

  1. Get real.

No one sails through life problem-free. Accept the reality that troubles will come, then apply those strategies that provide relief, strategies such as: exercise and proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, laughter, and meaningful activity, including acts of kindness each day.

 

b8a886a4d226b7c342d7be36add4f9e6

 

  1. Get hope.

Be watchful for God’s blessings in spite of the circumstances, and thank him for his loving attention. Gratitude does indeed transform attitudes.

Find fresh strength in God’s Word, especially in his promises and assurance of his faithfulness to keep those promises (Romans 15:4; Psalm 145:13; 1 Corinthians 1:9).

We can ask God to help us set new, worthwhile goals, then look forward to the day when those goals will be met.

Researchers have noted that resilient people do not strive for riches, fame, power, or recognition. Instead they are focused on their legacies—what contributions their lives will make to those around them.  Hope in God—in all circumstances—is in itself an invaluable legacy.

 

dc018940ab0edea3d3f776dc4336173f

 

  1. Get in community with other Christians—not just by being present, but by actively participating.

Years ago while I was dealing with an ongoing disappointment, Sunday morning worship on the praise team and mid-week rehearsals did much to recharge my spirit. (Not that all was smooth sailing in between! I still struggled to stay on an even keel; but with God’s help I didn’t stop trying.)

In addition, when we contribute hope to others through listening and encouragement, we find our own outlook much improved.

 

d64f6b0348399c6ab1a2db4d6da0e560

 

*           *          *

A boat that floats is not built by just lining up the various parts in the boatyard. It requires the hands and expertise of a master boat builder, to craft a skiff of beauty, function, and purpose.

 

017c661391a97e6ad96158e0211995fb

 

A satisfying, meaningful life cannot be achieved by mere acceptance of the various events in our lives. It requires the hands and expertise of the Master. He takes all of it—the delightful and the demoralizing—to craft a life of beauty, function, and purpose.

 

(The boat metaphor idea came from Ralph W. Sockman, author of The Higher Happiness (1950).

 

Art & photo credits:  www.inland-boats.com; http://www.slideplayer.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (3).

 

Read Full Post »

Say the word, “blessing,” and what immediately comes to mind?

For me, it’s happy events and lovely gifts, engineered or bestowed by God out of his loving kindness.

But James, the brother of Jesus, saw a different side of blessing: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides” (James 1:2, MSG, italics added).

Tests and challenges as gifts?! Sounds a bit daft—until we consider:

 

What-Seems-To-Us-As-Bitter-Trials-Are-Often-Blessings-In-Disguise

 

Take, for example…

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF WANT

Do you wish you had a bigger house? A newer car? Better furniture? Consider yourself blessed, that you’re not like King Solomon–the wealthiest person who ever lived. For all his striving to achieve and accumulate, Solomon discovered that when every desire is gratified, the end result is nothing but meaningless smoke (Ecclesiastes 1:2, MSG).

The blessing of want protects us from the pit of depression caused by self-indulgence.

The blessing of want fosters contentment, as we learn to enjoy and be grateful for what we already have.

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF DIFFICULTY

Difficulties provide a surprising number of positive opportunities. Here are ten:

  • To press in closer to God and trust him more completely.
  • To experience the adventure of God’s sufficiency (Philippians 4:13) as he enables us to endure—in ways we never thought possible.

 

Philippians4_13

 

  • To see how God will bring beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
  • To discover more of who God is.
  • To witness the fulfillment of his never-failing promises.
  • To present a sacrifice of praise to God, beginning with the affirmation that he has our best interests at heart—in spite of what we see.
  • To be prepared for greater usefulness for God (John 15:2), which fosters greater fulfillment and satisfaction in our spirits.

 

46dd131cacc19b855d589b3358b83851

 

  • To have a compelling story to share, as encouragement for others. Years ago I heard a speaker say, “With no test there is no testimony.” In the final analysis, I’d rather have the latter. You, too?
  • To become mature, complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). That doesn’t happen without trials.  As Thomas Carlyle wrote:

 

quote-no-pressure-no-diamonds-thomas-carlyle-31833

(“No pressure, no diamonds.”)

  • To love our Savior more passionately. Josif Trif, a pastor from Romania during the days of Communism, said, “If it weren’t for Communism, I would not have loved our Lord as much. I kissed the cross the Communists gave me” (1).

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF FAILURE

If failure served no purpose in our lives, God would not allow it to happen. But since he does, we can know that failure is either for our benefit or for God’s glory—often both.

Failure is the soil from which great success can grow, beginning with a crop of positive character traits, such as perseverance, humility, and greater reliance upon God.

 

Green-Bean-Sprouts1

 

Out of failure comes experience; from experience comes greater wisdom; and wisdom leads to a godly life.

“How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6, ISV)!

*    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Crazy as it sounds, I want to praise you, Father, for the blessings of challenges and tough times. Thank you for your loving attention that carries me through, transforming me and makes me a better version of myself.  I also praise you for the glorious promise that through trouble, hardship, disappointment, or pain–“overwhelming victory is ours through Christ” (Romans 8:37, NLT)!

 

What crazy blessing have you experienced in the crucible of trouble, hardship, disappointment, or pain?  Please join the conversation below!

 

(1) His Imprint, My Expression, Kay Arthur, Harvest House, 1993, p. 135.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.imagesbuddy,com; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.izquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.harvesttotable.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

$T2eC16Z,!ykE9s7t)22nBQ0lKpDuG!~~60_35

(Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill)

 

The annals of history are filled with failures.  Consider:

Example #1: A.’s parents may have felt like failures when their son did not speak until age four and did not read until he was seven. Later they faced the embarrassment of his expulsion from school.

But surely his parents must have breathed a sigh of relief when A. was finally admitted to a university–only to be discouraged again when a professor called him a lazy dog! Who was this disappointing failure of a son? Albert Einstein.

Example #2: As a young man, W. worked for a newspaper, but not for long. His editor told him he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. In the coming years he started a number of short-lived enterprises that ended in bankruptcy. The name of this business failure? Walt Disney.

Example#3: M. was set up for failure. Jealous competitors convinced an employer to assign him a difficult, time-consuming project, outside M.’s area of expertise. It was a sure-fire plan to keep him busy, ruin his reputation, and be rid of him.

The employer? Pope Junius II. The person set up for failure? Michelangelo. The project was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo had no experience with fresco painting. In addition to tackling a new medium, he had to paint upside down on a curved surface. It took him four years to complete the project.

But. Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), painter, writer, and historian said, “The whole world came running when the vault was revealed, and the sight of it was enough to reduce them to stunned silence.”  I’ll bet his competitors were among them!

As I seek to put myself in the place of each of these individuals, I sense their disappointment, embarrassment, and frustration. Failure is painful! It damages our dignity and destroys our morale.

Simply put, failure feels bad…

…but that’s good!

Defeats push us to refocus and redirect. And with God’s help, those two steps can bring us to peace in spite of failure, and hope for a future of contentment.  Our relationship with God is deepened; our character is strengthened.

Care to join me in a closer look at those two verbs, refocus and redirect?

Refocus by turning our attention upward—not backward. Dwelling on the disappointments of the past is counterproductive.

As soon as we realize negativity has moved in, we must refocus our thoughts on gratitude for God’s gifts and praise for his attributes. (If my past experience is any indication, we may have to do this frequently. The enemy does not give up easily!)

But when we fill our hearts and minds with faith-statements, peace, encouragement and hope have a chance to flourish.

Redirect  our energy. God gives us our marching orders in Psalm 37. Again, note the verbs.

Trust in the Lord and do goodDelight yourself in the Lord…Commit your way to the Lord…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…Do not fret—it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:3-8).

And all the while we can remind ourselves, God specializes in providing…

  • Strength for the weary and power for the weak
  • Light in place of darkness
  • New ways out of a wasteland
  • Comfort for the afflicted
  • Gladness and joy after sorrow and sighing
  • Beauty out of ashes

(Isaiah 40:28-29; 42:16; 43:19; 49:13; 51:11; 61:3)

 

Thank God he also provides what Winston Churchill (at the beginning of the post) says counts the most:   the courage to continue.

 

(Photo and quote credit:  www.ebay.co.uk.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

Living Our Days

Gaining a heart of wisdom

My Italian Valley

Home of Italian Slow Living

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and devotions by Heidi Viars

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions