Winston Churchill famously described success as the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss in enthusiasm. He described success this way because he understood that the difference between successful people and people who fail is resilience. While successful people fail numerous times but are undeterred and keep going, people who are failures usually fail once, take it to heart, get discouraged and quit. Whereas Churchill may have been drawing on the example of a certain Thomas Edison whom it took over 1000-tries before finally inventing a working light-bulb, we have to look no further than the bible to see how the power of resilience leads to success.
Light-bulb moment: As believers, the word failure should never be a part of our vocabulary because God who is love (see 1 John 4:8) never fails (see 1 Corinthians 13:8). If we fail, it is because we give up on God and not because God gives up on us.
Lets explore the above statement further.
Peter, the most prominent of Christ’s disciples had an abundance of resilience or “bounce-back-ability”. Previously named Simon (which can be translated as a wavering reed; blown in any direction by the wind), he grew into the rock that Christ used to build the early church. I specifically use the word “grew” because Peter was no rock at the beginning of his voyage with Christ. After all, this was the chap that began to sink because of his lack of faith (see Matthew 14:30), the fellow to whom Jesus said “get thee behind me Satan” (fancy being called Satan); the guy that swore loyalty to Jesus but denied Him three times. And when Peter denied Him, he just did not say “I do not know that guy”, but he denied Him vehemently with an oath, a curse, and a swear (see Matthew 26:72 – 74).
Yet, it was this same Simon that Jesus called Cephas (stone) when He first met him (see John 1:42). Why? Jesus knew Peter had a certain quality and potential (just like all of us) about him. Despite his failings, Peter had the qualities of boldness, courage, and a never say die attitude. We know this because it was this same Peter that had the gall to step out of the boat and into the sea when the rest stayed; he was the one that boldly told Jesus that He would never wash his feet; He was the one that swiftly cut off the ear of a servant when the guards came to take Jesus.Through his actions, Peter tells us the following:
Light-bulb moment: Rather than being namby-pamby believers, we ought to be bold and courageous warriors who take the Kingdom of heaven by force (see Matthew 11:12). Our boldness is in Christ, for we know there is nothing He cannot fix.
What was so impressive about Peter was his ability to forgive himself, pick himself up, and press on after making a mistake or a fool of himself. No matter what happened, Peter maintained a stone like quality – he was unmovable in spirit. Jesus could work with that! Perhaps this is why Jesus called him Cephas when he first met him. All Peter needed was direction, and Jesus gave him that.
Similar to Simon, Saul was a bold and zealous man. Once Jesus got a hold of Saul, He went to work on him so that a zeal that was once applied to persecute the church was re-aligned into zeal to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! What a gift Paul became and continues to be to the modern day church.
A man that did not allow Jesus to mold him but instead gave up was Judas. In a sense, Judas did not do anything that the other disciples did not do. Yes, Judas betrayed Jesus, but so did the other disciples. They betrayed His trust by abandoning Him once He was arrested (see Matthew 26:56) – especially Peter. Note that Judas’s betrayal was a betrayal of trust, for Jesus was hiding from no one but instead taught openly in the synagogues in Jerusalem where His detractors could have taken Him (see Matthew 26:55).
The difference between the disciples (especially Peter) and Judas was that while they bounced back from their betrayal, Judas chose not to bounce back from his. Instead of asking Jesus for forgiveness, he hung himself even before Jesus was ever tried and condemned to the cross. As far as we know, Judas (unlike Peter who failed numerous times but was resilient) failed once and gave up. He saw his failure (betrayal) as too grave and therefore hung himself.
Seriously! After seeing all the miracles that Jesus performed, the least Judas could have done was wait to see if Jesus was actually going to do what He had told the disciples (including Judas) and perform the “Houdini Act” of being resurrected.
“Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up”…….”
– Matthew 17: 22 – 23
But no! He allowed Satan to convince him there was no way to bounce back from his failure. If Judas had only waited a few more days, he would have experienced the forgiving love of His Savior.
Light-bulb moment: We should never give up and hang our dreams because of our inadequacies and failures but rather, we should wait a few more days and wait for God to show up in our lives and shower His love upon us.
We always have to remember that no matter what we have done, no matter how many times we have failed, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have to stay resilient and resist the negative jabs of the devil. We have to break up our fallow ground and allow Christ to mold us, and He will bless us in ways we have never imagined!
Food for thought: Just like the disciples, we are all guilty of betraying Jesus. We choose to become Judas when we choose to give up on God