Pastor Joel Osteen once gave the illustration of a boat. He said when we go through testing the goal is to sail your boat on the water without water getting into your boat. Unfortunately, in testing, we're likely picturing, The Love Boat and thinking "Can I get ice in this drink?" However, the waves can get so choppy it's more like the Titanic and, "Iceberg! Straight ahead!". Severe testing comes to strengthen us but if we're in situations we've never dealt with before - like Covid-19, how do you manage?
In the Book of Ruth, Naomi tells her daughter-in-law Ruth to "go after the gleaners". So, let's go after a few innovative pioneers who overcame extreme odds. And, importantly, let's see what can we learn from them. Because God wants you to know you can get THROUGH. In fact... You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
"I should have stayed in port", Job from the belly of a whale (no, not really)
Failure is not an option but it's a concern for some. We often stand on the scripture, "God doesn't give us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind," (2 Timothy 1:7). However, a concern sometimes is "What if I don't get it right?" Or, "What if I lose everything?" One thing we can learn is that God sometimes let's us fail.
In the Bible...
Job failed. He ran from the Lord and took a cruise vacation or so he thought. But, God sent a whale to redirect Job and get him back on course. What a whale of a time he must have had. Fishy, right? The prodigal son also failed. He was frivolous and spent everything. But when he came to his senses, he went back home and was received lovingly by his father. Moses also failed. He had a stutter, was raised by Egyptians and eventually killed a man. After hiding out, God eventually called him to create the first tablets, err, 10 Commandments.
In the world...
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new", Albert Einstein
The physicist failed several times. He wasn't able to speak until the age of 4 and he couldn't read until the age of 7. While he graduated college, he almost dropped out. He failed so much that when his father died, he considered him a huge failure. But after wandering aimlessly a few years, he took a job at a patent office and went onto achieve groundbreaking physics work. Oh yeah, and did we mention? He eventually won a Nobel Peace Prize.
"There is no plan B for passion", Chris Gardner
Maybe you've seen the story about Chris, The Pursuit of Happyness. As a single father, Chris was subjected to homelessness and he was facing divorce and prison time. He grew up in foster care and an abusive home. After his wife had an affair, he left with his child and eventually met a man who told him to study to become a stockbroker. He went onto open his own firm and is now worth over $60 million.
"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss had his manuscripts rejected 27 different times before he became a famous book author. At one point, there were over 6000 million copies of his works available around the world.
"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude", Oprah Winfrey
Oprah grew up in a poor household in Baltimore and endured extreme hardship. She suffered sexual abuse and upon entering the workforce, endured harassment and sexism. Fired from her news anchor job at WJZ, she went onto start her own television show and magazine. And, she eventually started her own network, OWN. She's one of the richest women in the world.
"I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father's life", Sidney Poitier
Sidney was rejected initially when he tried to break into acting. But, he kept at it. He went onto win an Oscar and was the first African American actor to do so.
Vincent van Gogh
"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint', then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced", Vincent van Gogh
failed as a painter. He only sold 1 painting but didn't let that stop him. He completed almost a thousand paintings. After his death, one sold for just over $82 million.
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them", Walt Disney
Walt Disney was surprisingly rejected more than 300 times when he started creating his Disney drawings. Disney went onto open Walt Disney World and is one of the biggest media corporations globally.
What Failure Teaches Us
The good news is when we fail, we have a Father God who loves us. How do we know this? Jesus said to the disciples about forgiveness when Peter asked how many times he should forgive, Jesus said, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven". God knows we are human and wants us to try again so we can grow stronger in Him.
When we fail we learn specific lessons. These are actually life lessons that you might not learn if your plans hadn't fallen apart.
Failure teaches us:
Stay tuned... We'll explore other topics about great leaders who overcame severe testing. And, wait until we talk about David, Joseph and Jesus!