“Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.” Daniel 11:35 NIV
Failure can be humiliating, difficult and, for those used to success, uncomfortable to the point of distressing. Being wise is clearly no safeguard against falling down. It can happen to the best of us. We all make mistakes. But perhaps surprisingly to our achievement driven capitalism, getting it wrong now and again can be very valuable, and that applies in a worldly sense as well as a spiritual one.
James Dyson went bankrupt a number of times before finally convincing the world that his vacuum cleaners were the best they could buy. Estee Lauder, Walt Disney and Henry Ford all had several massive failures before hitting the big time, even though now they are touted as proof of the American Dream. This isn’t an aim of ours as Christians of course, but we can take the lesson from this that failure is a great teacher. Making mistakes is the best way of learning. I’ve found it’s the same with discovering who we are in Christ. We often need to find out who we are not, before it becomes very clear who we are.
Experiencing time face down in the dust gives us the gift of true humility, which is really just being earthed in the truth. We know our limits, our potential, our true worth, our giftings without polishing them with a false shine or dulling them with false modesty.
In truth, it is only when we have fallen so far down and tasted mud, and eaten husks meant for pigs, that we can truly also know and savour the taste of grace. Trials purify us, for they are the birthplace not only of humility, but of faith, and as James also tells us, of perseverance and therefore character. In short, troubles, failures, difficulties, stumbling and falling down are the pitstops on the road to becoming our true selves. Without them we might be wise, but understand nothing of the journey we are all on.
© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt
Photograph public domain