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When God Allows Unhappy Moments To Take Place

Written by Gracella Sofiani Mingkid, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

“I can’t tell you about my unhappy moments because I’ve never experienced any before,” my friend said. We were having a small group discussion and were taking turns to share about at least three moments in our lives that made us unhappy.

I almost couldn’t believe her reply. “Wow, what an amazing life she must have,” I thought. And yet, a part of me couldn’t help but wonder, “Really, God? Is it possible that someone is never unhappy?”

I have had my fair share of unhappy moments. In eleventh grade, I was ranked third in class for the very first time. I know this may sound odd, but I was sad because I had always attained first place. I was a perfectionist especially when it came to grades—I had to be the best.

I blamed myself for failing to stay in first place and repeatedly chided myself for not studying hard enough. The day I received my results, I locked myself in my room and cried.

When I told my friends about how disappointed I was in myself, they told me off for overreacting over a “small difference”. What my friends didn’t realize was how much this “small difference” meant to me.

When the new academic year started, I pushed myself even harder to do well. It was not easy at all. I had lost my confidence and believed that my friends didn’t look up to me anymore. Some of them had moved to another study group.

During my time in college, God allowed me to go through the same struggle again. While there were times I did get a perfect score, there were also times when I didn’t get a satisfying score, no matter how hard I tried. The perfectionist in me still wasn’t used to failure, and I went through the same set of emotions again and again.

I’ve always been ready to share my testimony of God’s goodness. However, whenever I didn’t perform as well as I expected, I couldn’t bring myself to testify about His grace and goodness. In fact, when I think about it, most of the testimonies I’ve heard have been about thanking God for something good, such as good health or good scores in school. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Of course, we are to glorify God for everything He has done for us. But what if someone who just got fired from his job, is suffering from last-stage cancer or who has failed his final examination were to ask you, Does that mean God does not love me?, how would you answer them?

I’ve heard one pastor suggest that we can give better testimonies by adding “one way” in front of our sentences. For example, one way God shows me His kindness is by giving me excellent scores. One way He shows me His love is by giving me good health or a good job. By recognizing that God uses different ways and means to bless us, we are reminding ourselves that God can and will display His love and kindness to us in many ways.

God may not always give us what—according to our perspective—is good and extraordinary. When Job was suffering, his wife asked him to curse God. Job’s response was, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

As Christians, we are to expect that our lives are not going to be smooth-sailing. God may use disappointment, heartache, defeat, and loss to show us that He will love us no matter what. In fact, that is what He did with me. God shaped me by putting me right at the bottom. He allowed me to experience disappointment and defeat.

The pain helped me understand His purpose. He showed me the correct attitude I should have in the face of disappointment. I became less result-oriented and more process-oriented. Appreciation of the process itself—when it comes to study or work—makes it easier for me to accept my failures and unfulfilled expectations or wishes.

A story of a high schooler who felt depressed because of her perfectionism may sound silly. But that’s exactly how she learned patience, self-control, and the correct attitude. Through this experience, she realized how much God loves her, and that God has the full authority to shape and purify her life. She learned to rely on God’s mighty hand and wisdom.

I Dare You to Fail

Written By Megan Tibbits, USA

I got a call one day. The voice on the other end said something like, “We really like your voice. We want you to be on our TV show.”

I couldn’t believe it. I was just a small town girl from Michigan, who had gone to Los Angeles for a visit. I didn’t intend to pursue a career in music but over time, I felt God put the dream on my heart, and I ended up making the city my new home.

When a friend told me about a new show that was accepting auditions, I made a home video of me singing “Royals” by Lorde and “All of Me” by John Legend in my closet and uploaded it to YouTube. I didn’t expect anything would come of it—but I got the call.

Over the next couple months, I made it through rounds of auditions, and eventually to the live show where, each week, I had to prepare a song to perform live in front of approximately 10 million home viewers. They would then vote “yes” or “no” to decide if I should move on in the competition or not. If the majority voted “yes”, a giant screen shielding me from the celebrity judges would rise and I would move on to the next round. If the majority voted “no”, the screen would stay in place and my journey would end.

 

 

I made it through two weeks of live show and my confidence grew. I saw myself making it all the way to the finale show and maybe even taking home the title of “winner”. However, God’s plan took me in a different direction. My third week of competition didn’t play out as I had intended. As I neared the end of the song, the wall was still down. And not only did the wall stay in place, I saw the percentage of people who voted “yes”. Thirty-one percent of the viewers thought I was good enough, talented enough, and worthy enough to click the “yes” button on their phone—which meant sixty-nine percent did not. So I was out of the competition. Almost as soon as my dream began, it ended.

I didn’t sleep well for weeks after that. My whole town in Michigan and all my friends in Los Angeles had rooted for me, but I had let them down. I thought I had disappointed everyone. I was filled with regret, and my mind was in turmoil with thoughts of everything that I had done wrong. I thought I picked the wrong song and that I didn’t sing well. I thought about how, if anyone were to look up my name, the first thing they’d find is the video of my failure. I thought my shot of going anywhere with my music was over.

These thoughts filled my head for months until I heard an amazing lady from the Salvation Army named Danielle Strickland talk about how people so often try to be like Hercules. We tend to want to be a “never-let-them-see-us-bleed” type of person, working ridiculously hard to keep up a reputation that makes us look amazing, strong, undefeated, and perfect.

I had always secretly wanted to be perfect, to be seen in a way that no one could ever find something bad to talk about, or something to be disappointed in. I’d always wanted to be someone that succeeded at everything I tried, someone that never let anyone down, including myself.

But then, I remembered Jesus. He bled in front of everyone. His reputation as King of Kings and Savior of the World was shattered on a cross for everyone to see. He willingly and publicly “failed” in a way that would make history. And that became one of the most important parts of His story. Without that part, the rest wouldn’t matter. It’s through the moments that look like “failure” that God redeems and transforms us into something extraordinarily beautiful.

My failure made me die to myself that day. I died to needing to be perfect, because now millions of people knew that I wasn’t. I died to having to succeed at everything I did, because there were videos proving that I didn’t. I died to trying to have a reputation and a name for myself, because now to some people, my name was simply “the girl that got kicked off that show”.

And you know what? I’m so glad I failed. Because sometimes, trying to maintain a “reputation” of being great is where we miss what we are purposed to do. Failing helped me see that my identity is not found in what I’ve done, or what I’ve accomplished, but in the fact that I am a treasured daughter of God.

The Bible says over and over that God exalts those who humble themselves (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6). When my need for “Megan to be awesome” is out of the way, He can use me so much more effectively by His power at work through me. I’m not perfect, and failure is part of my story, and a necessary part of where I’m going. We don’t need to take the failure out of our story. We don’t need to appear perfect, because we’re never going to be. In fact, Jesus says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Two years later, as I write this, I see that happening. I’ve begun traveling around to schools and talking with students about courage, identity, and following their dreams. I’m also a worship leader at my church in LA; I sing and share at conferences and churches and schools and events. I’m still making YouTube videos. I have been given opportunities to lead people into worship as well as tell the stories of what Jesus has done in my life through the songs that I write and the platform God has given me through music.

 

 

My blip of disappointment has allowed God to grow my character into something that He can use more powerfully than before, to grow me into someone that sees the beauty of imperfection. It has taught me some really important things about humility, and how as I die to my need to be perfect, I become more fully alive in the perfection of Jesus. And I believe that the way God shaped me through this experience has enabled me to walk even more fully and mightily into the purpose He created me for.

So have hope, my friends. Because when you fail, it’s okay. Let it be a part of your story. Let God grow your character and mold you into who you are meant to be. Let Him lead you further into the purpose He has for you. In fact, I dare you to fail. And I can’t wait to see who you become.

 

This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.

When Our Success is Actually Failure

Written By Maleakhi P. S., Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

Everywhere I go, I see people around me striving after something. Some study hard to get the grades they want, some work hard to get promoted in their jobs, while others earn extra to buy nice cars and houses. Although the end results are different, they’re all about the same thing: everyone is pursuing something. Everyone wants success in one form or another.

But why does everyone pursue success? What is true success? Is there a way we can be guaranteed of it?

For a long time, I was not able to answer those questions—until I chanced upon a quote one day that drew an interesting relationship between success and failure. It read:

“Failure is any form of success that God doesn’t delight in.

I instantly saw the truth in that quote. There is only one way to measure success—against God’s standard. But more often than not, that’s not the case. Instead, we measure success in terms of what we have physically achieved, not because God is pleased with us. We rarely stop to ask, “Does God take delight in my success?”

Consider these scenarios: What if someone is able to afford a rich lifestyle because his wealth is accrued through corrupt means? Or what if someone is the CEO of a company because he attained his position by sabotaging his competitor? Would we deem their lives as successful?

In the eyes of the world, perhaps, yes. But in God’s eyes, these “successes” are actually failures.

When Saul failed

I was reminded of the account in 1 Samuel 15, where God commanded Saul to attack the Amalekites and completely destroy all that belonged to them, their people and animals alike (v. 3). Saul successfully attacked them (v. 7), but instead of completely destroying everyone and everything, he spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, and the best of sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs. He kept everything that seemed good (v. 8), blatantly disregarding God’s instructions.

To the rest of society, Saul may have appeared to be successful in his conquest, but in God’s eyes, he had failed in his mission completely because of his act of disobedience. Despite the great loot he had taken and the number of Amalekites he had killed, God was terribly disappointed with Saul. God said after that, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions” (v.11).

Have I failed?

After reading what God said of Saul, I began reflecting on my own life. If God could say such a hard-hitting statement to a king that He had anointed, surely I was no exception. I couldn’t imagine how I’d feel if God told me that He regretted making me a leader or giving me certain talents.

Sure, we might have skilled hands, good looks, and self-confidence, but if our emotions, thoughts, and actions are not pure, God does not delight in us. Sometimes, we may even be like Saul: We may be doing God’s work, but not in a manner that pleases Him. For example, I could be leading the congregation in worship every Sunday confidently, but my motives could be wrong. Others around may think that I’ve got it all together and that I’m walking closely with God. But He is able to see past my actions, right into my heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

True success, therefore, is achieved when what we do delights God. Instead of asking ourselves how we can be successful in the world’s eyes, we ought to ask ourselves how we can be successful in the eyes of God. Even if the world doesn’t recognize what we do as success, let’s strive to please and obey Him.

God delights in us when we obey and heed Him, just as 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” Outer appearances do not matter to Him, but the heart does. Are we obeying Him today? Are our feelings, thoughts, and actions pure before Him?

May this be our prayer today. May we strive for success—in the eyes of God.

What Should I Do When I Fail?

By Noel Daniel G, India

Many a time in the course of living, we are enraptured by our successes one moment only to turn depressed by our failures the next. Is it good to be tossed between being carried away and crestfallen? No, is the Christian’s answer, simply because followers of Jesus should always dutifully attribute our successes to Jesus and earnestly invite Him to shed light on the lessons we ought to learn in our failures.

King Uzziah became the king of Israel at the tender age of 16. When most youngsters are more focused in enjoyment than responsibilities, he was entrusted with the mandate of leading the nation in God’s ways. He ruled victoriously for many years with God’s guidance. However his downfall began when he “sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar” (2 Chronicles 26:16). Those actions were inappropriate of him as burning incense to God was restricted only to Aaron’s descendants, the priests. He let success go to his head and flouted God’s rules. Immediately leprosy struck him on his forehead and he lived the rest of his life in isolation in a separate house. Yet if he had repented, God would have forgiven and healed him, but he allowed failure to harden his heart.

Will we, like King Uzziah, let success swell our heads or failure to numb our hearts? Or will we cling on to Christ the solid Rock? Let us be humble always, attributing all our successes to God and accepting failures by returning to God in repentance. For “God opposed the proud, but favors the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).