QUESTION: I have recently experienced a serious business failure. I honestly thought I was obeying the Lord when I began this venture 10 years ago. But a combination of factors has lead to financial failure and serious loss. I have never felt so confused, humiliated and alone. The thing that is the most confusing is that I thought I did what the Lord asked me to do. I am beginning to think I don't even understand how to perceive His plans for me. Do you have any insight to offer?]
ANSWER: I am reminded of the story of Jesus and His disciples in Matthew 14:22-23. After a tiring day of ministry, Jesus told his disciples to get in a boat and go out into the sea. As a result, they were thrown into a terrible windstorm that left them terrified. Eventually, Jesus walked out on the water and approached the disciples. They thought he was a ghost until Peter, the compulsive one, asked the Lord to let him walk on water as well to prove He really was Christ. So, Jesus commanded him to get out of the boat. Without a second thought, Peter bailed out onto the sea and did actually walk on water; but when he started looking at the wild seas, he sank. However, Jesus reached out for Peter and saved him. Once Christ got in the boat, the wind died and the disciples worshiped Him.
This story is an amazing example of how sometimes the Lord leads us into situations that just might bring about hardship and even our failure. But the Lord allows these things to happen to increase our faith and develop our “spiritual sea legs.” When we read the story of the sinking disciple, it's easy to think of him as a failure. He did fail in the sense that he lost focus on Jesus and allowed fear to engulf him.
But don't forget — Peter was the only disciple in that creaking, waterlogged, rocking boat that had enough initial faith to actually step from the safety of the boat to the uncertainty of the sea.
While Peter was doing the backstroke, 11 bigger failures sat in the boat. They failed privately. They failed quietly. Their failure was safe, unnoticed, and uncriticized. Only Peter experience public “failure.”
However, only Peter experienced the glory of walking on the water. He was the only passenger in that vessel who understood the depths of Jesus' ability to save people who are sinking in the seas of their circumstances.
Like Peter, we've all had those “sinking feelings.” We've focused on the seas instead of the Savior. We've taken dynamic steps and ended up in the depths of despair. But none of us who has been a sinker is truly a failure until we refuse to call out to Christ in faith, until we refuse to extend our hand to Him, until we decide not to allow Him to lift us above our stormy situation.
I don't know all the details of your loss. However, if you sincerely believed that you were obeying the Lord in the venture, then perhaps God lead you to the very spot you are at so that, Like Peter, you can learn a new depth of trust in Him.
Also, take hope in knowing that you are not alone in your failure. Some of the most successful people who made history did so in the face of great challenges. The reason they ultimately succeed was because they simply refused to sink.
For instance, the man who invented the vaccine for polio, Jonas Salk developed 200 unsuccessful vaccines before he came up with one that worked. Someone asked him, “How did it feel to fail 200 times, trying to invent a vaccine for polio?”
He responded, “I never failed 200 times at anything in my life. My family taught me never to use that word. I simply discovered 200 ways how not to make a vaccine for polio!”
The author of 54 books, Debra White Smith has over one million books in print worldwide and is the featured relationship specialist on the Fox News radio show,“Plain Jane Wisdom.” She holds an M.A. from the University of Texas. She and her husband, Daniel, co-pastor a church in east Texas. For more information, visit www.debrawhitesmith.com.
Got a problem? E-mail Debra at email@example.com