When We Think We Are Failures


I come to You this morning, Lord, as a failure—one who can’t get the job done. I’ve failed at the social media/blog stuff—I’ve failed at revealing you to others. My heart is broken. You take failures, don’t You, Lord? I’m grateful, because I am one.

This was my open confession to God today. There’s no use hiding. He knows my ways.

A devotional I read this morning caught my eye. “I know my own failure better than I know anything else in life. Take away my sin, O God, and heal my brokenness. Repair  my  life that I may yet glorify Your Name” (Senior’s Bible, John Killin, P. 462).

Have you ever felt as though you’re a failure and have become discouraged? We all, I would guess, have been there at one time or another.

What helps turn this around? Where do we go from hanging our heads in shame and maybe some self-pity thrown in, to walking tall and having a smile on our face?

For me it takes some time alone to re-evaluate my own definition of why I believe I’m a failure. And I usually come to this: By whose definition am I a failure? To name a few: I don’t measure up to my own expectations, or in comparison to so- and- so, I just don’t make the grade.

Is that the measuring rod I need to use–how well someone else does this or that?

It’s a necessary part of the evaluation for me, to find someone in the Bible who has experienced believing they were a failure. I even asked, “Lord, are there examples in the Bible of some who thought they were failures and resisted your clear call?” Hmm, glad you asked.

For starters there was Moses who, when God said He was sending him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, argued with God saying he was not eloquent and that he was slow of speech and tongue. But God reminded Moses, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:10-11, 13). Moses was so afraid he was unable to perform what God was telling him to do that he had the nerve to continue pleading with Him and said: “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Moses was so insecure in his own abilities that God became red hot angry with him. Despite Moses fear, God exhibited amazing patience with His servant.

Then there was Elijah who had, by God’s power, stacked up quite a few credits as God’s prophet. He had predicted a famine in Israel…and God fed him by ravens. He raised the Sidonian widow’s son from the dead, he defeated the prophets of Baal at Carmel, to name a few. And then he became afraid of the evil Jezebel. It’s surprising to see one who was such a faithful servant tuck his tail and run.

There are times when the job just seems too much for us. Elijah was so fearful and tired that he asked God to take his life.  Elijah “…prayed that he might die. ‘I’ve had enough Lord,’ He said, ‘Take my life.’ Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep” (I Kings 19:3-5). Then God mercifully deployed His angels to feed Elijah. “All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ And there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.” I can imagine Elijah sleeping deeply and then, “The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you’” (I Kings 19:7). Not intending to oversimplify,  sometimes we just need a good meal and a nap.

All this happened toward the end of Elijah’s life journey and shortly before his successor, Elisha, was anointed to take his place.

The disciples must have felt like the worst of failures when at Gethsemane Jesus asked them to “Stay here and keep watch” for Him. But when He returned they were sound asleep. “Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak” (Mark 14:32-38).

Many times we fall short of being the servant Jesus asks us to be. We miss the mark. We blow it.

At times like this the only place to go is to His feet confessing our sin and weakness and asking for the strength to get us through. Jesus told His disciples to “Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Jesus often drew away from the crowds Himself.

Do you know a place that is peaceful and quiet where you can slip away for a half day, even a whole day or weekend?   If not, ask God to show you such a place and  make plans to go there, rest and invite Jesus to come with you. What a difference a day away can make.

Looking at discouragement I realize we have an enemy in this world who wants us to be discouraged.  In fact our struggle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Make this time of getting away and resting a time to re-arm  yourself with “the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

We are not alone in this battle of believing we are failures– when we may be exactly where God wants us to be.

When it seems like I’m failing in doing life, perhaps the only thing in which I’m actually failing is trusting that God is instructing me and teaching me in the way I should go, counseling me and watching over me. (From Psalm 32:8)

Emily Freeman says it like this: “The truth is my slowness is not a fault or a sin, but fighting it might be. I tend to think my limitations are my burdens but perhaps they are actually my gifts if I’m willing to see them that way” (Simply Tuesday, Emily Freeman, P.95).

When my trust gauge is bouncing on empty that’s my indication I need to fill up with God’s promises and rest in Him.


More than conquerors (Romans 8:37)

About Judy Robertson

Judy Robertson is an author, speaker, and teacher and co-founder with her late husband, Jim, of Concerned Christians, an outreach ministry to Mormons and an equipping arm of the Body of Christ. As Christian missionaries, Jim and Judy lived in the South Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga for 7 years. Judy is currently writing about their adventures.
This entry was posted in Being still before God, Confession, failure, Faith, peace, Prayer, Regrets, rest, Trust in God's promises, weakness, When life seems too much and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to When We Think We Are Failures

  1. What a wonderful reminder to trust God when we feel we are failures!


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