April 2, 2010
Victory is on the Other Side of Failure
"The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.'"
Matthew 28:5-6a (NIV)
Told by a teacher he was too stupid to learn: Thomas Edison
Fired from his job at a newspaper because he didn't have good ideas: Walt Disney
A music teacher told him he had no hope as a composer: Beethoven
Falsely accused, arrested, killed: Jesus Christ
The disciples of Jesus must have been shattered that Friday. For three years they followed the man from Nazareth. They watched Him heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, and even raise people from the dead. When Jesus said, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness" (John 12:46, NAS), they got it. Darkness enveloped the hearts of their countrymen. They needed a "Light."
Twelve ordinary men abandoned everything to follow Jesus: jobs, family, and homes. Not with regret, but with hope. Hope for the promise Jesus offered. Look where it got them that Friday. Good Friday, we call it now. But it was anything but good to them. Jesus was dead - they'd witnessed the crucifixion. Only 11 now, they must have gathered that night after scattering throughout the city. Other followers joined them to mourn the death of the man they loved, and the death of the hope He offered.
On Saturday, they still gathered. No one left - though they could have. They could have packed up their things and put this failed adventure behind them. Back to fishing, back to family, back to normal. But no one left. In spite of what appeared to be complete failure of this new kingdom, everyone stayed. Faithful.
Saturday inched forward to noon, dusk, and then evening. The beauty of the night sky didn't ease their pain. Perhaps they reminisced some. In hindsight, Jesus wasn't really what they were expecting. When the prophets of old foretold a king would come to rescue them, they figured it would be someone imposing, with power, maybe with chariots to whip their enemies into submission. Some took longer than others to readjust their expectations. But when God opened their eyes to the beauty of His plan, they bought into it with their lives.
I'm sure troubled thoughts stole their sleep that Saturday night. Finally, in complete exhaustion their tired bodies overtook their worried minds. Sunday morning dawned. I imagine some woke up hoping it was all a bad dream. Then reality settled in, like heavy summer storm clouds. Jesus was still dead.
Two women got ready first and went to the tomb. Expecting to find the body of their beloved Savior, God treated them instead to a display of His power. With a violent earthquake shaking the ground, an angel of the Lord came from heaven, rolled back the stone covering the tomb and sat down on the rock. Hello!
The angel looked at the women, and spoke words that transformed them from hopeless to hope-filled: "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee" (Matthew 28:5-7a, NIV).
Can you even imagine the celebration? It had only looked like failure. Instead, it was glorious victory! Hope wasn't dead. Jesus was alive! The disciples learned a lesson they would never forget: When God is involved, things aren't always what they seem.
Today we see problems and failures with the same eyes as the disciples. Even knowing that God is able to do things beyond what we can imagine, when we look at a "failure," we often only see an ending. God, however, sees an opportunity for a new beginning. As we celebrate Easter, may that truth nestle itself into our heart. With God all things are possible. He is risen!
Dear Lord, my heart is filled with thanksgiving and praise for You. How can I begin to thank You for sending Jesus, and for His sacrifice for me? Thank You also for the lesson that nothing is too big for You. Help me remember that truth when I'm facing what looks like failure. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
This devotion is adapted from a chapter on helping your children deal with failure in Glynnis' book, When Your Child is Hurting
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer
For more on the love of Christ, read The Most Beautiful Scars
Have you had any "failures" in your life? Pick one that sticks out to you. Identify how God used that situation to open another door in your life, or redirect your path to something better. Then thank Him for His goodness.
From God's perspective, what is true failure?
When you have failed in the past, what have people done or said that was most helpful to you at that time?
Luke 18:27, "Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" (NIV)
Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)
© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105