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Learning from Past Failures – By Dr Glenn Cummings

One day Samson encountered a lion and slew it. The Bible says, “Sometime later, when he went back…he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass. In it he saw…some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along” (vv. 8-9).
 
There’s a lesson here for you. When you take time to stop and reflect, you discover “honey” in your experiences that you can eat and grow stronger and wiser. When you reflect, you are able to put things into perspective; you gain new appreciation for things you didn’t notice before. Few of us have clear perspective in the heat of the moment. Most of us who have survived a traumatic experience usually avoid similar situations at all costs. This can leave us with unresolved issues that leave us tied up in knots. Reflective thinking enables us to distance ourselves from the intense emotions of an experience and see it with fresh eyes. Indeed, this process is one of the first steps to getting rid of our emotional baggage.
 
President George Washington observed, “We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” Each of us has been shaped by the experiences, good and bad, that we’ve had in life. When we refuse to deal with past failures,  we often “act out” our unresolved issues. But when we bring them into the light and ask God for the grace to face them squarely, they lose their power over us.
 
The disciple Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. But as readers of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of “miserable failure” rather than that of “obedient servant.”
 
We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God’s authority, we realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.
 
Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. Through trial and error, he discovered that humility is required of believers (John 13:5-14); that God’s ways are higher than the world’s ways (Mark 8:33); and that one should never take his eyes away from Jesus (Matt. 14:30). He took each of those lessons to heart and thereby grew stronger in his faith. Isn’t that Romans 8:28 in action? God caused Peter’s failures to be put to good use as training material because the disciple was eager to mature and serve.
 
God doesn’t reward rebellion or wrongdoing. However, by His grace, He blesses those who choose repentance and embrace chastisement as a tool for growth.
 
We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God’s eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord. That’s a lesson we all should take to heart.
 

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