“In life we must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I walk a lot. Doc says it good for me. 3, 4, 5 miles a day. Not sure, I lose track. Usually, you will find me walking the streets of Tarpon Springs, Florida. It’s always an eclectic adventure. While strolling along the famed Sponge Docks, I caught a few lines from an old Steely Dan tune. “They got a name for the winners in the world. I want a name when I lose…” I thought to myself, “really?” Not me buddy. Losing is bad enough. No need to start naming my failures.
Look, if you live long enough, you’re bound to feel like you’re a loser on some level. Just because we fit the description of a “failure” from time to time doesn’t mean we are a lost cause. I have made many mistakes over the years. Regrets? I’ve had more than a few. Missed opportunities? Let’s not go there.
We all wrestle with personal brokenness, nagging mistakes, and stubborn hurts. This is real life, and it isn’t easy. One day, I decided that wallowing is not the right way to handle failures and disappointments. May I share a verse from the Bible with you? Many years ago, it really helped me to put my own life in perspective.
13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” – Psalm 139:13-16 TLB
Now that’s what I’m talking about. The Divine Creator knew every detail of my life before I was even born. He knew the good, the bad and the ugly, and He loves me anyway. Why? Because God scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Nothing that I do surprises Him. He may hate our sinfulness, but he still loves the sinner. He may allow the consequences of sin to manifest in our lives, but He continues to care about us ne’er-do-wells in spite of it all. The Almighty loves the human race. He is on our side!
“Even on your worst days you are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. And on your best days you are never so good that you’re beyond the need of God’s grace.” – Anonymous
There are numerous examples of people who might have initially been labeled as the proverbial “failure” in the Bible. In spite of personal shortcomings, or the dubious circumstances surrounding these individuals, God ultimately had a plan for each of their lives.
- Joseph was one of Jacob’s 12 sons. His father favored him over all the others. This made his brothers very resentful. Their jealousy of Joseph eventually grew into action. They sold him to a traveling caravan of Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt and sold him as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Later he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail. At that moment, he sure looked like a loser. But God had other plans for Joseph. This Hebrew slave would eventually become Vizier (chief administrator) to the Pharaoh, the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. (Genesis 37-50)
- The Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at the community well had been through five failed marriages and was now shacking-up with number six. Some would definitely call her a loser. Not our Creator. Jesus first exposed her true condition, then spoke compassionately with her, and offered her a better way of life. As a result, God used her testimony to bring the Samaritan people the Good News message, and many in her town became true believers. (John 4:3-42)
- The man known as Saul of Tarshish had a reputation for destroying the lives of those who followed the new movement called The Way (Christianity). As a man of devout religious beliefs, he actually thought he was doing God a favor by eliminating these heretics. That is until the manifest Spirit of Jesus confronted him in an extraordinary vision on the road to ancient Damascus (read about it in Acts 9). The incident left him shaken and temporarily blind. At that moment he was a loser. Saul ultimately saw the light, joined The Way, and became known as Paul the Apostle. Divinely appointed as a missionary, He established many of the early Christian Assemblies. His writings make up nearly half of the Bible’s Newer Testament.
Like the men and women in these Scriptural illustrations, every one of us is here on Earth for a reason. It doesn’t matter how far away from the path of truth and virtue we may wander. God never forgets who we really are. His love for us is perfect (unlike self-absorbed human love). He does all He can to bring us back to Himself whenever we go astray. God doesn’t keep a record of his people’s failures. In His mercy, He forgives and forgets. Our Creator just sees the beautiful person He has (re)created – not the mess we’ve made. He sees a diamond in the rough – a work in progress
“Sometimes you just have to turn the page to realize there is more to your Book of Life than the page you are stuck on. Don’t be afraid to move on.” – Anonymous
People with broken lives and shattered dreams are not rubbish to God. He always sees our value, as well as the unique gifts He has placed within us. He continually molds everyone who surrenders their life to Him into a new creation based on His original and marvelous design. We become his workmanship.
10 “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” – Ephesians. 2:10 AMP
Think you are a loser? Feel like you’re drowning in a sea of disappointment, hopelessness – maybe even despair? In the words of singer/songwriter John Fischer:
Losing is winning if it turns you around
It all looks clearer when you’re close to the ground
If you know you’re lost, then you can be found
And you walk out — a winner*
Do yourself a favor and plant this truth from the Bible’s Older Testament, Psalm 139, in your memory:
15-16 “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life were all prepared before I’d even lived one single day.” – PSALM 139:15-16
Do you get it yet?
You are not an accident. God designed you, and He doesn’t make junk!
Pray with me if you like…
Almighty God, we confess our faults to you. We have messed up; but we can depend on your faithfulness to forgive our many failures, making us blameless in your sight. Our hope rests upon the Liberator Jesus. He paid our ransom and set us free. Help us as we journey along life’s road until the day of our final walk on the road back home. We ask this all in the name of Jesus – our kinsman redeemer. AMEN.
*Song lyrics from “Losing is Winning” by John Fischer
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656