Handling Failure


The past few weeks have been full of wonderful moments and stories: Those moments when you feel as though heaven is touching earth. Stories that make it all seem worth it. But then, there was this moment of “failure.”

And don’t valleys do something deeper in our hearts than mountaintops?

First, one of my recent favorite stories: After a school event, a girl came up and said she’d made some decisions based on the God who she couldn’t even feel. “But today,” she told me, “I felt Him.”

My heart wanted to sing, even as I shared with her that when we can’t feel Him, He’s still there.

Little did I know, I was about to live a little in her shoes…

Later that week, I was praying once again for that night’s seminar. I asked Him to be with me as I spoke, and I felt as if He was saying, “Of course I will.” I was nervous because I’d be sharing a brand new seminar…but I was also excited because God had been stretching me in that direction, and really coming through each time.

And then I got up to speak…

and the seminar was awful.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. Truth is, it wasn’t awful, but I felt like He wasn’t with me. I felt like it didn’t go well. I felt like a failure.

And I was so mad at God.

I’ve been talking with God about this for the past few days, because I couldn’t understand why He didn’t seem to care, why He let that happen. The only answer I kept getting was, “I love you.” (Sometimes God’s answers, at first glance, have nothing to do with our questions.)

Last night I brought it up again: “God, I thought you said you’d be with me!” And in that moment, I sensed Him saying:

“I was with you. I am with you. And I will always be with you.”

My friend Greg said that sometimes we forget God is with us in darkness. He is our guide through the valley of the shadow of death, just as much as He is our guide on the mountaintop. In fact, even darkness is light to Him (Psalm 139). And darkness brings a desperation that draws my heart closer.

Maybe God wanted me to know that He’s far more concerned with my heart than with an awesome seminar. Maybe He wanted to teach me that my identity is only found in Him. Maybe He wanted to deal with some of my pride, as I saw how much I overreacted to that feeling of failure, wanting to prove myself. 

I’m not sure what exactly He was doing inside me, but I saw once again that He’s far more interested in wooing my heart than in how “well” I feel an event goes. 

He keeps teaching me that His first priority in every season of life is that I love Him with all my heart — not that I’m successful enough or rich enough or popular enough, but that I’m His.

I think He was showing me that even though I didn’t feel Him there, He was there. And on top of that, God still moved, touching hearts.

It’s amazing. He’s always with me, and He always loves me.


One thought on “Handling Failure

  1. Brendan O'Regan says:

    Maybe the problem was with your audience! There’s bound to some events less inspired and inspiring than others. G M Hopkins’ poem ‘Thou art indeed just Lord’ springs to mind.


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