Bruised but not broken

Published 3:40 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Our youngest grandchild is a few months away from her second birthday and, like most children her age, she is full of energy as she discovers new things almost daily. 

Raegan has been walking for awhile, but that is no longer adequate—she now seems to get a thrill out of climbing and running.  She has plenty of battle wounds that speak of her growing desire for mobility.  Whether at home or at daycare, she is prone to have a mishap at anytime; she looks like a victim of abuse with the bruises, bumps, and scratches that show up on her little body—usually her head.  In spite of the momentary pain that goes along with her incidences, it does not discourage her from continuing to develop her new found skills.  The fear of failure apparently does not enter her mind as she runs and falls, as she climbs and falls, and as she falls sometimes for no real reason, but she maintains an ongoing perseverance that assures her that the gain is worth whatever pain she encounters along the way.

Even when we try our best to keep moving ahead in our walk with God, there are times when we experience setbacks that we often perceive as failures.  It is then that we must not give in to the temptation to become discouraged and abandon our quest to serve God.

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I entered into Bible college as a nontraditional student:  Gale and I had been married for eleven years and we had two children.  Those who have endured such a journey understand some of the difficulties and challenges that come along with it.  I will not deny that I wanted to quit more than once, but with my wife’s encouragement to stay the course, I made it through those four brutal years.

When I was about half-way through, I was required to pass a test given by the state of Florida in order to continue to receive much needed state financial aid.  After taking the long and laborious test, I found that I passed every area except one; I was one point short of passing math.  I do not accept failure well, so I was understandably upset with my performance.  That left me with a choice:  I could give up because of that one bump in the road to graduation, or I could retake the failed portion of the test and hopefully excel in the second attempt.

Those times in life that we perceive as failures can, if we will allow them, become rich learning events that will ultimately make us stronger and better.  John C. Maxwell, in his book Failing Forward, writes, “The terrible truth is that all roads to achievement lead through the land of failure.”  Maxwell then offers this bit of guidance which I believe applies to both our spiritual growth and our daily accomplishments:  “Get a new definition of failure.  Regard it as the price you pay for progress.  If you can do that, you will put yourself in a much better position to fail forward.”

James 1:12 assures us that “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (New International Version).  The trials of life that appear as useless failures, in reality often prove to become indispensible preparation time for the future.  Sometimes we get bruised, but that does not mean we are broken.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “The things which hurt, instruct.”

What happened with the test that I failed?  I prepared myself, retook it and received a nearly perfect score the second time around.  I can assure you from more than one personal experience that refusing to accept failure as final pays huge dividends.