What can we say about those who took the right steps and made the right moves, and yet failure hounds them? Are we not taught that if we “put God first” … or claim His promises… or tithe faithfully… or follow the Bible … God will shower us with blessing and success? Why do we still fail? Was it because we did not pray enough? Believe enough? Obey enough? How much is enough, anyway?
But God has very good reasons should He postpone the very success we expect from Him. During an agonizing stretch of joblessness, I was summoned to an interview with a blue-chip company. I didn’t get the job, even though I was “prayed over” by two pastors just before the interview. Not only did I see myself as having failed, I accused God of having failed me, too.
But later I had a sense that had I gotten the job, I was not prepared – emotionally and professionally – to work there. To paraphrase what my spiritual mentor said, if we insist on the blessing which we are not prepared for, we would destroy that blessing and ourselves. To those who wrestle with failure, I would encourage them that the final chapter has not yet been written. Postponed blessings do happen. It does not mean we have failed.
So the puzzle of failure reminds us that we still live in an imperfect world.
While we are taught that God is sovereign, it seems that God also allowed this world to run on a cause-and-effect principle. This includes the decisions and actions of people on our pursuit of success. While researching for my next book, Your First Job, I encountered the story of an entrepreneur who hired a “Christian” accountant, only to see that accountant run off with company funds. That entrepreneur was plunged into bankruptcy and even had to sell off her house to stave off creditors.
So the puzzle of failure reminds us that we still live in an imperfect world. Employers deny us the career breakthroughs we seek. Dysfunctional families saddle us with emotional baggage. Church leaders wound us with petty strife or sheer hypocrisy. These and more make success more like an upward climb rather than a walk in the park. It is a sad reality, but it does not mean we have failed.
Events don’t turn out the way we want them to be. People, even those whom we thought are our friends, oppose us. Sometimes it seems that even God has forgotten us. But let us persevere in hope, faith and energy. Time and again, I read of authors, athletes and actors who dispel their reputations of being an “overnight success” and pointed out the years of toiling in obscurity and honing their craft.
It is said that Thomas Edison failed 100,000 times before perfecting the first light bulb. Yes, by all means, trust God. Pray for success. Obey His word. But add to that the virtue of perseverance. If God has put a dream in your heart, keep that dream alive and keep working until that dream becomes fulfillment. Until, at last, God in His perfect timing and gracious wisdom, turns our dreams into reality.
Perseverance is the best answer to the puzzle of failure.