Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has shared many revelations of spiritual truth with me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we will examine a difficult experience common to all mortals--the experience of failure.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Success in Failure
"For my eyes have seen thy salvation." Luke, Chapter 2, Verse 30
Brothers and sisters, we become acquainted with failure at a fairly early age. Even as small children, we learn that we cannot always get our way. The experience of failure is accompanied by internal and external consequences. There are also internal failures and external failures. When we perceive that we have failed, we experience a series of negative emotions. Disappointment is often the overriding one.
There are many types of failure. We may fail to achieve some desired, external goal, perhaps. This may be a job, a promotion, a desirable mate, a state of health, and other goals that may be beyond our control. And then there are failures of character——an internal failure, say. No matter the type, failure leads to a negative emotional response. Why is this so?
Failure is a measure of incomplete growth. Incomplete growth (as well as a lack of experience, power and wisdom) causes us to choose inappropriate goals. Sometimes failure may be due to rebellion, our refusal to follow rules governing a particular task. Sometimes failure may be due to our inadequate physical, intellectual, moral, or spiritual growth. We want to focus our attention on failure of moral and spiritual growth and more specifically exam the success of these failures.
At times it may be hard to discern success in failure, but it is there. Consider this: "Even as mortals, so have these angels been father to many disappointments, and they will point out that sometimes your most disappointing disappointments have become your greatest blessings. Sometimes the planting of a seed necessitates its death, the death of your fondest hopes, before it can be reborn to bear the fruits of new life and new opportunity."
Perhaps one of the most common examples of this great truth is the occasion when we set our hearts on a certain mate during our young and immature years. The failure to acquire the affections of this mate and win her in wedlock caused our hearts to break to such a point we felt we could not recover. But the passing of time and riper maturity revealed that not only did we recover from this failure, but we were glad that we failed. We examined the life we would have had if our wish had been fulfilled. We became very happy and realized the kind of devastating trap we had escaped. There are other values that are found in failure that we acquire.
Another example comes to mind: Sometimes we may want to pursue a certain profession because of ulterior motives, such as monetary rewards, social prestige, egotistical reasons. But we may be ill suited for its intangible requirements. At the interview, these absent intangibles are noted, and the person is rejected. This may be a gut wrenching experience as the person watches his hopes evaporate. But having been rejected from this course of action, he finally pursues what he is really suited for and begins to experience the joy of fulfillment. In looking back over the experience, he realizes how miserable he would have been had he been allowed to pursue his original goal. He really appreciates the failure and considers the failure really a success in that it prevented him from making a disastrous mistake.
Sometimes failing health can do for us what nothing else has been able to do (causes us to realize our mortality). This realization, once accepted, causes us to seek after God and his promised salvation. And this prevents us from experiencing the final failure--the failure to survive this mortal life.
As we are incomplete creatures and sometimes very immature, and because we have to learn by experience, when we approach an obstacle standing in our way of progress, we don’’t always make our best effort. This often results in failure. These kinds of failures teach the reflective soul the value of doing always one’’s best. We learn the values of tenacity, persistence, and sincerity as well.
Sometimes it takes a while and many failures for some of us to learn that life is not a continuous joy ride of self-gratification. While there are many joyful events and relaxation, life is a strenuous exercise in growth and achievements, of converting internal potentials into actuals. The sooner we learn this lesson, the sooner we will reduce the pain and suffering of failure and disappointments. When we finally learn this lesson, we will no longer engage in procrastination, equivocation, insincerity, ease-seeking, problem avoidance.
Since we are experiential creatures, we cannot know what we have not experienced. We cannot start out as wise beings. We need to acquire wisdom, and wisdom is only acquired as the result of reacting to the lessons learned from disappointments. Life teaches us by allowing for course adjustments. When we fail, we are forced to stop and consider our path. Did we make a wrong turn? Did we supply sufficient effort? Did we prematurely attempt a goal that we were not ready for or did we give up prematurely? Consider this: "From them (angels) you will learn to let pressure develop stability and certainty; to be faithful and earnest and, withal, cheerful; to accept challenges without complaint and to face difficulties and uncertainties without fear. They will ask: If you fail, will you rise indomitably to try anew? If you succeed, will you maintain a well-balanced poise ———— a stabilized and spiritualized attitude ———— throughout every effort in the long struggle to break the fetters of material inertia, to attain the freedom of spirit existence?"
Finally the experience of failure elevates our faith; we come to the conclusion that nothing of spiritual value is every lost. "After such spiritual attainment, whether secured by gradual growth or specific crisis, there occurs a new orientation of personality as well as the development of a new standard of values. Such spirit-born individuals are so re-motivated in life that they can calmly stand by while their fondest ambitions perish and their keenest hopes crash; they positively know that such catastrophes are but the redirecting cataclysms which wreck one’’s temporal creations preliminary to the rearing of the more noble and enduring realities of a new and more sublime level of universe attainment."
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning success in failure. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.