Can you give God the glory for your failure?

In the last couple of months, nearly a year really, I’ve been struggling and fighting with God about His plans for my life. He’s so funny. Just when you think you have Him figured out, He shifts you in a different direction.

I’ve been arguing with Him for ages, and now that I’ve made my decision, I’m wondering what exactly was holding me back for this long. I know it was fear partially, but fear of what? I know part of me feared to succeed and not be prepared enough for success, but most definitely the larger part of me feared to fail.

I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t like failure. I’m a people pleaser, so I don’t like disappointing others. Put those two characteristics together, and you’ve got a dangerous combination. But here’s a question we really need to ask ourselves: Should we really be afraid of failure?

Processed by: Helicon Filter;  MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I understand sometimes that the Bible uses figurative language, which means it’s important to understand the context. If you just pick up a Bible verse and take it literally without understanding who it was written to or why it was written, you could have a faith system based on “eat, drink, and be merry” and “then, Judas hanged himself.”

Context is important in Scripture, but sometimes you get a verse that doesn’t require context. It’s so plain, you don’t have to break it down. This is one of those verses.

Whatever you do, do it for God’s glory.

That means, if you succeed, if you fail, if you win, if you lose, you can do all of it for God’s glory, but what does that look like practically? Can you actually fail for God’s glory? Can you actually lose for God’s glory?

Doing anything for God’s glory used to confuse me. I didn’t know how to handle it practically, but as I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve started to grasp the concept a little better. Glory is kind of an old-fashioned word, and in churchy context, it tends to glow in stained glass colors, which I’ve always found make it difficult to fit into real life. Glory is the credit you give for the events and circumstances in your life.

Did you win an award? Who gets the credit? Did you get a great job? Who gets the credit? That’s the context we think about in giving credit to someone. Usually credit is only associated with what we call positive things. If our life encounters negative things, we don’t give credit. We pin blame.

If you get laid off, you don’t give anyone credit for you. You blame people. If you lose someone you love, you don’t give credit for it. You point fingers. But what would happen to our lives and our perspectives if we start giving God credit even for the terrible things that happen to us? Not in a way that accuses Him but in the way that demonstrates we believe He has something better in mind.

That would take your failure and turn it on its head, because if you fail for God’s glory–if you fail and give God credit for allowing you to fail–is it really failure? No, not at all. Everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason, even if it’s something bad. You can learn something from everything that happens to you, and God is big enough to take every horrible thing in your life and turn it into something beautiful. But before He can do that–or, rather, before you can see Him doing that–you have to be willing to give Him the credit for what’s happening in your life.

It’s not easy, because blame feels so much more natural. Well, it is natural. We’re geared to tear others down, to hurt people with our words, to shift responsibility from ourselves to those around us. That’s natural, thanks to our sinful natures, but if you’re a Christ-follower, you aren’t called to a natural life. You’re called to a supernatural life.

Has something awesome happened to you? Give God the credit for it. Has something terrible happened to you? Give God the credit because you trust He’ll make something beautiful from the ashes.

Don’t be afraid of failure or success. God is enough to work with both, and if you have Him on your side, nobody will be able to stop you. Not even yourself.

Mountains and jungle and corn - Peten, Guatemala

If the rocks can’t help it, what’s my problem?

The earth is beautiful. It doesn’t matter where you go on this crazy little dust ball we call home, you can find something beautiful. Even if that beauty comes in the form of desolate deserts in the Middle East or the lush rain forests of South America or the savannahs of Africa, it’s still beautiful and amazing and totally beyond anything that we puny humans could have made.

Mountains and jungle and corn - Peten, Guatemala

Mountains and jungle and corn - Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Psalm 98:4.

Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!

There are verses throughout the Psalms — throughout the whole Bible, really — that talk about how all of Creation is in a constant state of worship.

Trees, fields, flowers, birds, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars — everything that God made proclaims how awesome He is even though they don’t really have the ability to speak. So I find it ironic that the crowning jewel of God’s creation, the creation that is made like God and has been given a choice in the matter, refuses to give God the credit.

I am such a self-centered person sometimes. I get caught in the trap of thinking that God created everything for me. And that’s wrong. God didn’t create the world for humans. He didn’t create humans just so they could run around and have a good time either. He created everything for His glory.

God didn’t create the earth for me. He created it for Himself, just like He made me and everyone else. But God inexplicably gave us a choice. We can choose to serve Him or we can choose not to serve Him. We can choose to give Him glory or we can choose to live for ourselves. It’s up to us. Granted, we have to face the consequences of those choices, but that’s what it means to have a choice — accepting whatever consequences are associated with it.

But whether I choose to serve God and give Him credit and glory really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Yes, He wants me to. And, yes, He gave everything so that He could have a relationship with me. But when it comes right down to it, God doesn’t need me.

He doesn’t need me to worship Him. He has all of creation to do that. Creation can’t help it. The whole earth has been so marvelously stitched together that even the “simplest” of organisms is beyond our capacity to understand. The complexity and the creativity and the beauty is beyond mere circumstance and chance; the earth itself is evidence that God created everything. And if the rocks can’t shut up about it, what’s my problem?

If all of creation has no problem telling God how awesome He is, why do I hesitate? Why am I reluctant to worship Him for all the things that He is doing in my life?

I get so bogged down in all the everyday troubles and struggles of life that I forget sometimes what the purpose of living is all about. I forget what God has done for me. And I forget to thank Him when I should.

But when you get right down to the truth about it, God doesn’t need me to tell Him that He’s great. But if I can, it will change me.

If I can get my eyes off myself and my little insignificant life and focus all my energy and my intentionality on Him and His bigger picture, my life will change. My purpose will become clear. And my existence will not only have meaning now but will leave a legacy behind for others to follow.

Creation isn’t about us. It isn’t about us understanding how God did something. It’s understanding that some things are beyond our understanding. And it’s about giving God credit for everything because if we can do that, we can realize that life isn’t about us. It’s about Him.

And when we really wrap our heads around that, He can really start to use us.