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The ‘F’ Word

Is Ruth really going to write about the ‘F’ word? She really isn’t that good, saintly Christian we depicted her as! What an awful choice of word! Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Wash your mouth out with soap! Christians shouldn’t swear! Have you repented?

Friends, I am sorry if I have roped you in to believing I was going to right about the ‘F’ word. I am going to write about a word beginning with F that I have noticed people use a lot when thinking about themselves. But it is not the swear word that you were probably all looking for (I pray that you weren’t hoping for however!).

The ‘F’ word I have been hearing a lot recently is ‘failure’. This word has come from different people I have spoken with or different blogs I have read over the last few weeks. This word is pretty depressing. Even when I say it out loud I want to slump my shoulders and look to the floor. I have to admit, this word has been on my mind a lot at the moment too. I feel like I have failed in comparison to my peers at finding work. Seeing them get new, exciting jobs whilst I have to take daily trips to see the nurse for the next few months is not fun. I feel like I have failed. When I cannot become disciplined enough to reject that chocolate or write that next article, I feel like I have failed. I am a failure.

Define It

To ‘fail’ means to ‘be unsuccessful’, to ‘become weak, cease functioning’; to ‘neglect or be unable’; to ‘disappoint’; to ‘become bankrupt’; to declare to be unsuccessful’.

‘Failing’ means ‘weakness or fault’.

‘Failure’ means ‘failing, lack of success’; ‘person or thing that fails’.

Align It

Looking at some words that mean the same i.e. synonyms, it paints a more detailed picture of what we think of ourselves when we declare ourselves to be ‘failures’:

Fail: be unsuccessful, break down, close down, come to an end, come to grief, come to nothing, conk out, crash, cut out, fall through, fizzle out, flop, fold, founder, give up, go bankrupt, go bust, go out of business…

Failing: blemish, defect, fault, flaw, imperfection, shortcoming, weakness, weak spot…

Failure: defeat, disappointment, disaster, downfall, fiasco…

I find this video amusing from the film ‘Patch Adams’ when they look at the word ‘death’ in more detail… but you get the idea… 😉

There are times in our lives when I am sure we have hit a low point and we feel like we are failing, have failed and thus we count ourselves as failures. It could perhaps be through letting someone down such as a friend or family member. Maybe we have felt like failures at school, college or at work. Maybe we feel like we have failed in our walk with God because we can’t stop repeating that same sin we struggle with over and over again. We start to believe the lies from the enemy that we are no good, we are worthless, we are nothing, we are failures. We compare ourselves to others around us and thus, we come to the conclusion that we are failures because we are not like so and so.

What is the truth? Is that the truth? Am I a failure?

Refine It

We are considered to be failing when we have weakness or when we have a weak spot. We all have areas in our lives which we know we are weak in. That is one of those questions at interviews: what are your weaknesses? You probably wouldn’t respond with ‘My right ankle.’ However, weaknesses or weak spots are in all of us, for none of us are perfect – even when we compare ourselves and think that the person over there has it altogether. No! They don’t! We all have a weakness – but what does the Lord say about our weakness?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

God uses our weaknesses in the most glorious ways. What we count as failing, God sees as perfection because His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. In my own life, the Lord has used my shortcomings and weaknesses and turned them around. He has refined my character. However, there is a lot of me that still needs to be refined and I will keep being refined in my weaknesses throughout this journey of knowing the Lord more.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Weakness is therefore not weakness! Not in the way we see it or perceive it. We are strong when we are weak because Christ’s power rests upon us! What’s more, is we can be content through these tough times when we may ‘feel’ that we are ‘failing’. Truth be told, we can endure all these difficulties in life for the sake of Jesus Christ who was considered a ‘failure’ by those who scorned at Him as he died on the cross. What did they say to Jesus when He was crucified?

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Matthew 27:39-44)

They hurled insults at Him. The mocked Him. It is clear that from this that they did not believe who Jesus was. If He really was the Son of God, He should be able to save Himself from death. He saved other people, but He could not save Himself. How could this Jesus, the Son of God, claim to be all powerful if He appeared so weak as he hung there in agony on the cross?

Because His power was made perfect on the cross.

As insults were hurled at Him and He was mocked and laughed at as he hung there dying, He was taking the sin of all mankind upon Himself. What appeared to be weakness in the eyes of the world was a crown in the sight of God. He was making a way for all mankind to come before God – to restore the broken relationship between man and God from the Garden of Eden. Through one man (Adam), all received death through sin. It is fitting then, that through one man, Jesus Christ – all would receive eternal life through His perfect, sinless life. ALL can receive this. By the grace of God, all are set free – ‘freedom’ in Jesus is an ‘F’ word that we should think about more often! Not only that, but ‘forgiveness’. If we have failed through sin, we are forgiven completely through Jesus.

So when we feel weak and declare ourselves to be ‘failures’, we should look back to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is seated at the right hand of God in heaven. I think these verses explain it well:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews:4:15-16)

Jesus is our high priest who has been tempted like us, but he did not sin. Therefore, we can draw near to Him with confidence and receive His mercy and find His grace in our times of need. We are FREE and FORGIVEN!

When we feel weak, then we are strong knowing that we can come to the throne of God with confidence, knowing that He will supply all our needs through the riches of Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

“Failure is so often defined with reference to the standards of the world; there is a need to realise that what the world counts as failure may count as a crown in the sight of God.” Alister McGrath – The Journey

Linking up with Kelly Balarie and friends at Purposeful Faith

7 thoughts on “The ‘F’ Word”

  1. Thanks so much for showing those underlying thoughts when we think “failure.” This was part of what led to my recent piece on broom wielders – I don’t fulfill that role well so that’s a “weakness or a fault,” it makes me “unsuccessful,” and is a “shortcoming.” While I don’t really use the “F” word, reading the synonyms definitely reveal a thought pattern. So to displace that, I am trying to get a grip that God created me differently. He gave me different gifts and a different calling. And when I need some of those skills, His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

    You gave me needed fuel today and I’m glad I found you through #RaRaLinkup on Purposeful Faith.

  2. Oh how I love the throne of grace. Oh, how I am thankful we have a high priest who sympathizes with us. We fall lightly into his arms. These words are so needed, so weighty and so encouraging. I love that you encourage all our hearts today; the #RaRalinkup crew on Purposeful Faith is all blessed by this, I am sure.

  3. As I read your words, Ruth, I’m reminded of a quote that begins, “Failure is not final.” So often we look at a failing and think we failed. But our failings point us to God. And like your words remind, His power is made perfect in our weaknesses and failings too.

  4. Letting God do a work in us is so key, but so difficult at times when it’s easy to compare our lives against others around us. I have to say, I struggled with this for years. I remember talking with a mentor of mine about this very topic, and she said to me, “Comparison and feelings of failure that follow will always happen when our focus isn’t Him. In Him is where you find completion. Completion always trumps failure.”
    I never forgot that.
    Love this beautiful reminder of yours, Ruth, to keep eyes and heart pinned on Him, and to leave failure behind.
    Popped over from the #RaRaLinkup!

  5. This reminds me of that phrase in Princess Bride, when Inigo Montoya says “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” Or something like that. Good post lady. And remember this, you are NOT a failure, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by an AWESOME GOD who has you in the palm of His hand during this season of life. Keep the faith. You’re doing great things! xoxo

  6. I love how you outlined your words to move us from defining, aligning and refining failure. You also chose one of my favorite verses from 2 Corinthians to illustrate how God’s power is made perfect in weakness. What a blessing to be counted as one of God’s chosen and to know that He loves to create us anew in His image which includes all of our weaknesses. You are loved and beautiful in God’s sight and that is enough! Blessings!

  7. Great post! So thankful Jesus is our high priest and we can draw near to Him, even in our “failures.” Thank you for this truth-filled, encouraging post. May God continue to bless you and your writing. You are making a difference for Him!

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