All of us have faced failure. We are never done failing unless we are done trying. “He who never makes a mistake never makes anything.” Some attribute this quote to Abraham Lincoln. I wouldn’t think that anyone wants to fail, but then again, I am surprised daily by what people want. The reason we do things is to succeed, but success is often hard to find. Notice that the title is “Faithful Through Failure” not “Faithful After Failure”. We may like to think we will have success after a failure, but the reality is that we will have morefailures. God wants His children to be faithful and trust Him with the results even when we fail.
You have probably heard of the thousands of attempts that Thomas Edison made before he was successful in inventing things like the lightbulb and improving the battery. Most successes are preceded by failure. This will be true in our life just as it has been for those who have gone before us. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus never failed at anything. He did exactly what He came to do, and that is to die for you and me to pay for our sins so that we could have eternal life in Heaven.
However, while He was succeeding, all His disciples were failing miserably. They all fled, and Peter denied Him 3 times. After spending 3 and a half years with the greatest teacher, the Creator of heaven and earth, they failed. I think that they had serious doubts about their ability to carry on the work after Jesus was gone. If they couldn’t do the right thing with Jesus standing right next to them, how could they succeed after He ascended into heaven?
In John 21 we find Peter and several disciples deciding to go fishing. This was probably a few weeks after the resurrection and a few weeks before Jesus would ascend into heaven. I don’t think that this was just a day of recreational fishing. I think that they were considering returning to the trade that they knew so well. This was something that they knew they could succeed at. They knew that they were professionals at this. They felt more in control. When we think that we are in control be ready to be proved wrong. It is foolish to think that we need to take control of a situation that God is controlling. Peter had already made this mistake a few weeks before in the Garden of Gethsemane when he drew his sword and tried to protect Jesus. On a side note, I don’t think that Peter was being brave in that moment. He had just seen Jesus say, “I am He”, and all those that came to take Jesus fell over backwards. Anyone could feel brave standing next to someone with that kind of power. Peter tried to take control. How many times do we give up on trusting God in a situation and we try to do things our way? Often what we see as a failure is not a failure. Peter did not fail in protecting Jesus in the Garden. Jesus did not need his protection. He failed when he denied Him. Now he is potentially leading other disciples into a life of failure, a life of failing to follow God’s plan for their life.
Jesus once again would prove to them that they are not in control, He is. All night they caught nothing. Then the next morning Jesus shouted from the shore (they didn’t know it was Him) that they should cast their net on the other side. When they did, the net was filled with fish.
Do you think that the problem all night was that they were fishing on the wrong side of the boat? No, that had nothing to do with it. When we think that we are in control we think that if we make little changes we can succeed in big ways. Jesus was once again showing that He was in control. There was nothing wrong with their fishing method. I’m sure other professional fisherman would have found nothing wrong with their method.
The reason that they didn’t catch any fish was because Jesus did not want them to catch any until He could perform a miracle. The sooner we admit that we are not in control, the better. The sooner that we listen to and follow Jesus the sooner we will have success.
A few weeks after this night of fishing, the disciples, who are now the Apostles, witness one of the greatest events in history. Not only are they able to speak in many different languages to share the gospel. They see thousands of people trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. Had they gone back to fishing for fish they would never have become fishers of men. They would have never had real success. Their faithfulness has changed the lives of millions in the last two thousand years.
Let’s get more personal for a minute. What are you trying to control? Is there something you are trying to make happen in your own way and in your own strength, but God wants something different? You will not win against God. Trust Him! Follow Him! You will never experience His peace apart from following His plan. When you are not following Him, you may have temporary success, but you will not have eternal success. Maybe you have failed in following Jesus. The great thing is that you can start being faithful today.
In order to follow Jesus, you need to know what Jesus says.
You must read the Bible, and listening to the preaching of the Word of God will also help with this. It will also help you get back on track when you fail. Together, let’s be faithful through failure and see what God will do.
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