Failure to Flourishing
The measure of our faith shows itself as much in the aftermath of failure as in the glow of attainment. Post-failure, Satan weaves his “best” lies. In these times the boots of faith must gain gritty traction, and hold. How? I offer a few thoughts from 1 Corinthians 1:
Look to Jesus to regain hope. In 1 Cor. 1:4-9, Paul confidently states, about the seriously-messed-up-sinful Corinthians, “[Jesus Christ] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” How can he say this about them? Repeated throughout this paragraph - in every verse - is the person Jesus. Failure dims our view of him, and then hope dims. We curl in on ourselves. One of the tell-tale signs of depression is the increased use of first-person pronouns: me, myself and I. We fight the depressive, curling in by opening the windows, to let in the light of Jesus. Faith resists the slide, by opening the Bible again, to cinch a foothold on who Jesus is, and on what He will do, especially at the end. On that day, with all our failures, all who are in Him will stand guiltless - not by our power, but by the power of the cross, by his life given for us.
Look to Jesus for humble clarity. Failure brings humble clarity: we learn again we’re not as great as we wish to be. While clarity of self, by itself, can go wrong (see above), clarity in seeing ourselves in light of Jesus sets us free. By nature we’re destructive fools. It is only “because of him” - or, see your footnote, “from him” - that any of us are “in Christ Jesus”. It is only because of him that we see Jesus for who he really is: “wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” Translation: our righteous standing before God, separate from that old self and life, and membership in His family - it all comes from Jesus.
When failure causes us to say, “If I boast, I will boast in the Lord”, this is safe, and good for us, because we’re getting at the root: the failure in question probably originated in self-sufficiency. Clarity of self and Christ enables clarity about what needs changing.
Look to Jesus, waiting in happy confidence. All that is good for us is found in Jesus’ resurrection life. That same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead? He dwells in us. He is unsurprised, unrelenting, and patient - and completely able to bring life to all our dead stuff that remains. Therefore we wait, humbly, happily, in hope.
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