For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
We All Stumble
We know the proverb says that the righteous can fall, even seven times, but will rise again (Proverbs 24:16). So, yes, it is possible to fail and to fall in life even if you’re following God’s lead. James said that all–that means all of us–stumble in many ways. If no one ever falls, then they’re perfect (James 3:2), so that would rule me out since I’m about as far from perfect as possible. Failure is how we actually learn the way not to do things. I think it was Thomas Edison who said that after failing thousands of times to make a light bulb that worked, he learned by how not to make it work; his persistent failures finally brought success. If you’re following God’s lead, I believe it is possible to fail in life because everything that happens to us always works out for our best (Romans 8:28).
On the night before Jesus was betrayed and arrested, Peter boasted that he would never betray Jesus (Luke 22:33), but Jesus said that he would do so three times (Luke 22:34). And Jesus told him to strengthen his brothers that when he returned to Him (Luke 22:32). Sure enough, Peter failed Jesus three times by denying Him (Luke 22:56-60). Right after that, Jesus looked at Peter (Luke 22:61), and Peter remembered Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denying Him three times and went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). Just think about how big of a failure Peter must have thought of himself. It must have been an enormous feeling of guilt, remorse, and regret. He had failed Jesus big time, yet Peter was restored and preached one of the greatest sermons in the Bible (Acts 2:14-39). Because of that sermon, about 3,000 souls were saved (Acts 2:41). So Peter’s failure in his life played right into the plans of God.
Paul was about as successful as any man in Judea could be at that time. He had reached a pinnacle that most of the religious leaders only dreamed about. He was of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, a persecutor of the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless (Philippians 3:5-6). He had it made, that was until God struck him down on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-20). He greatly failed in his mission to destroy the church, but then he became the greatest missionary the world may have ever known and perhaps the greatest of all the apostles, although many debate that. In any case, it appeared to the Jewish leaders that Paul had failed in his missionary work, at times being beaten, stone, whipped, flogged, imprisoned, and even left for dead (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). However, what appeared to the world as failure was actually Paul following God’s lead, for He was told that He would suffer many things for Christ’s sake (Acts 9:16), and it proved to be true.
A Closing Prayer
Father, thank You for picking me up when I fall and when I fail. Thank You for the knowledge that even failure is a part of Your plan, intended to make me dependent on You and to trust You through it all, and in Jesus’ mighty name I pray.
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