Learning through failure

One of the more unexpected truths about God is that He “employs the educative discipline of failures and mistakes very frequently. It is striking to see how much of the Bible deals with godly people making mistakes and God chastening them for it.”

Abraham, promised a son, but made to wait for him, loses patience, makes the mistake of acting the amateur providence, and begets Ishmael—and is made to wait for thirteen more years before God speaks to him again (Gen. 16:16-17:1).

Moses makes the mistake of trying to save his people by acts of self-assertion, throwing his weight around, killing an Egyptian, insisting on sorting out the Israelites’ private problems for them—and finds himself banished for many decades to the back side of the desert, to bring him to a less vainglorious mind.

David makes a run of mistakes—seducing Bathsheba and getting Uriah killed, neglecting his family, numbering the people for prestige—and in each case is chastened bitterly.

Jonah makes the mistake of running away from God’s call—and finds himself inside a great fish.”

“So we might go on (consider those listed in Hebrews 11). But the point to stress is that the human mistake, and the immediate divine displeasure, were in no case the end of the story. Abraham learned to wait God’s time. Moses was cured of his self-confidence (indeed, his subsequent diffidence was itself almost sinful!—see Ex. 4:10-14). David found repentance after each of his lapses and was closer to God at the end than at the beginning. Jonah prayed from the fish’s belly and lived to fulfill his mission to Ninevah.”

“God can bring good out of the extremes of our own folly; God can restore the years that the locust has eaten. It is said that those who never make mistakes never make anything; certainly, these men made mistakes, but through their mistakes God taught them to know his grace and to cleave to him in a way that would never have happened otherwise. Is your trouble a sense of failure? The knowledge of having made some significant mistake? Go back to God; his restoring grace waits for you” (J. I. Packer).

The clear lesson is that we are always dependent on our Lord, and our extremities often furnish the most suitable opportunities for God to display His power. (II Corinthians 4:7;12:1-9)

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Discipline, Failure, God, God as Potter, God of Old Testament and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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