Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dealing With (Seeming) Failure

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” — Matthew 23:37

         We are told in the Gospels of times when Jesus displayed emotions outside of what you and I might consider to be his own description of Himself as “meek” (Matt. 11:29, 21:5). For instance, when He looked on a group of people “with anger” (Mk. 3:5); when He drove another group from the Temple by force (Matt. 21:12); when His crying to God for deliverance in the garden was so loud He could plainly be heard; and here, where He seems to succumb to frustration at the defiance and disregard of His will and His love. I am fully aware that the will of God cannot and will not be thwarted, but I also know that in this verse, Jesus says, “I would have,” but “ye would not.” I also know that the Man who was God in the flesh, was “touched with the feelings of our infirmities” and “in all points tempted like as we are” (Heb. 4:15). And He would have to have known what it was to feel a sense of failure. At least, as far as I’m concerned.

         When the great purpose of your life, outside of pleasing God, has been to influence others to know Him and live for Him, it can become painfully frustrating when you’re unable to accomplish that in some lives. For some reason, we forget the victories and agonize over the defeats. A pastor may question his effectiveness because of those who left, rather than rejoice in the faithfulness of those who stayed. And as believers, if our tributes have not matched our efforts, it’s easy to assume insignificance, or even failure, forgetting that real faith believes God is the “rewarder” (Heb. 11:6), not man.

         But perhaps the most devastating of Satan’s accusations against godly men and women is his suggestion that any sin or character flaw in their children is because their failure as parents. For we who consider our children to be a trust from God, any flaw we see in them is a strike against us and an evidence of our neglect to that trust. This is true in spite of the many instances we see in Scripture of godly parents, whose children fell far short of their parental advantages, not the least of which was God himself, who said, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isa. 1:2).

         After He voiced the anguish of His soul in this verse in Matthew, Jesus went on to do the will of God and fulfill the purpose of His coming to earth. The moral victories that Jesus won in this life were won as a man. He knew what it was to be tempted by a sense of failure, but He refused to let it keep Him from doing the will of His Father. And it is possible for you and I to do the same thing.

The determination between failure and success is the prerogative of God alone, but there is one thing He has promised will never fail: 1 Corinthians 13:8a

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