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06 Feb '13

The gift of failure and pain

Posted by T.J. Addington in failure, pain

I was young when I went through the dark night of the soul – four years – my first pastorate. In that four years, my dreams were shattered, my heart was broken, my self worth was nearly destroyed, my reputation vilified by a powerful few. There have been other periods of great pain, none as great as the first but still they tried my soul and tested my faith and calling.


Those periods felt like failure. In reality they were the necessary steps toward success. There is no success without pain for pain, rightly handled is one of the non-negotiables of success and growth.


How thankful I am for them. How deeply I don’t want to repeat them. But failure and pain I have found to be a great gift for through them I have become what I am and without them I would still be what I was.


Faith does not grow in the comfort zone but in the red zone, where we are forced to confront our inability and learn His ability. In fact, it is my conviction that those who know Christ most intimately have learned that intimacy on the anvil of failure, suffering and pain because in the dark night of the soul they have been forced to cry out to God and in doing so, learn that He is sufficient, good, powerful and the only one who can ultimately be the source of our strength.


There is no growth without pain. It may be pain inflicted upon us by others, brought upon us by ourselves, or simply the circumstances of life. One giant of the faith wrote, “God cannot use a person greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” I believe that with all my heart and it is why we should see pain as our friend, not our enemy.  We don’t look for it but we thank God for it. It is the maker of character and faith if we treat it well. It is the maker of bitterness and cynicism if we treat it badly.


It was in pain that I learned to pray for my enemies – a supernatural lesson. It was in pain that I understood that God loved me unconditionally and that there was nothing I could do to make him love me more and nothing I could do to love me less. It was in pain that I learned to empathize with the humanness of others. It was in pain that I learned the grace of Jesus. It was in pain that I learned to live by faith. It was in pain that I understood my human limits and the unlimited goodness of Jesus.


Without pain. Without suffering. Without failure I would be much less than I am today. God grows us in the red zone, not the comfort zone.


Peter understood this well and he was a recipient of great pain and great grace. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trains. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7).



Father, thank you for the gift of failure, pain and suffering. For wrapped in the sorrow of these gifts is an even greater gift of love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, grace and the most precious gift of all,  knowing you more intimately so that we can follow you more closely and love you more deeply