Starting Over

How can I begin again when I have failed so miserably?  Do you get what I’m saying – is this common theme for your life?  All those plans and all that time and money seem wasted when I just “had to quit.”  Or my feeble attempts to be a good person went down the drain when I lost it yesterday.  I feel like a very bad person and an even worse Christian.

I’ve had days like this.

Arates monastery in ruins
Ruins of an ancient monastery

No Christian has ever lived without these overwhelming feelings of failure and hopelessness.  Even the Apostle Paul, a man God used to write 2/3 of the New Testament and plant many churches, felt hopeless at times.  Consider his despair of life itself during a time of persecution and apparent failure in his mission:

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9a, NIV)

A group of people known as the Judaizers (basically legalists who wanted people, even Christians, to conform to the traditions of Judaism as taught by the religious leaders of that day) went behind Paul’s missions, undermining his character and message.  Whatever Paul did seemed to be undone by their lies and cruelty.  Why go on?  Moreover, why would God allow what was obviously His mission to fail?

Just forget it and move on is the advice you hear – easy to say, very hard to do!  And is this even good advice?

Paul let us know why his troubles persisted:

9 …But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:9b-11, NIV)

God has not abandoned you.  He loved you enough to send His only Son, the LORD Jesus, to die on your behalf.  He loves you today even with your feelings of despair.  God will never, never, ever give up on you!

So what do I do?  Glad you asked because here is how the Apostle Paul and many, many Christians handle such traumatic times:

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)

I am not perfect and never will be.  Neither are you.  God knows our weakness and frailty.  Yet He empowers each of us to follow the LORD Jesus and make a difference in His world.

You will never forget your failure or tragedy but you can exercise in your inner being the act of forgetting – an ongoing act whenever the bad feelings emerge to remember God’s love for you, the future hope of Heaven, and the fact that the past is past.  The past cannot be changed or undone.    Yet the future is certain for those whose faith is in the LORD Jesus.  So, God gives you power in the present to press on – straining toward what is ahead.

Press on my friend!