Failure! We all know it too well. The dejected coach after a losing season, the business venture gone bad, working for a company twenty years only to be “let go due to cut backs,” or planning to read the Bible through in a year and getting stuck in Leviticus. These, large and small, are just some of the failures common to man. And, there is the mom who works from morning to late evening training her children only to feel like a failure when she lays her head to her pillow at night. A thousand short-comings every day scream at us, “Failure, Failure, Failure.” And then, there are our sins, the ones we wear like a human billboard, and the ones that lurk in the secret crevices of our heart. Many of them bubble up in our ungodly responses to falling flat: A bitter attitude, a discontented spirit, an angry countenance, depression and dejection. Failure.
But, can we find meaning in our failures? Susie Spurgeon believed that beneath every failure is a purpose that, when embraced by faith in God, will help us to grow stronger.
THE DISCIPLINE OF COMPLETE FAILURE
Most of us have needed this discipline of complete failure in ourselves to convince us that our strength is in God alone. He has to humble us, and to prove us, to know what is in our heart; . . . Ah! what trouble our God takes with us! What ungrateful, perverse, rebellious children we have been! He has had to empty us of so much that is abominable in His sight,–our pride,–our self-sufficiency,–our carnal security,–our own righteousness, before He could fill us with His Spirit, and take pleasure in us, that it is no wonder the process has been a painful one, and cost us many a cry and groan. We have been cast headlong from the heights of our pride and self-exaltation, and then, as we lay bruised and bleeding on the ground of self-abasement, crushed under a sense of our utter weakness, the Lord has drawn near, and given this gracious assurance, ‘I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee.
PURPOSES IN FAILURE
Susie recognized three purposes in failure.
- Failures convey that our strength is in God alone.
- Failures reveal our sinful responses (not giving thanks to God in all things) and our need to be content.
- Failures enable us to experience God’s tender mercies and grace.
Indeed it is also when we are brought low that we hear God’s voice clearly, experience his enabling grace deeply, and are then able to declare boldly, “He helped me.” The apostle Paul in his great weakness heard the voice of God saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee’ for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
FAILURE ROUSES US FROM OUR SLUMBER
Susie understood what C.S. Lewis later expressed, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
God does not always deliver us from our troubles, but he will deliver us through them. Susie declares, “Oh, the condescension and tenderness of our God! Our extremity is His opportunity: His mercy follows hard after our misery; and as soon as He has taught us our exceeding need, He supplies it with the bounties of His exceeding love. Then it is that He gives us ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.'”
To know more deeply the tender care of God, His generous compassion, His gentle touch, and His healing hand is to be able to confidently exclaim, “It is worth while being weak, to be gloriously strengthened by Thee!”
Ray Rhodes, Jr. is the author of Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon from Moody Publishers. Order Here.
To schedule Ray to speak for your next event, contact him here.