Summary: why we feel like a failure

Intro: Did you get the chance to watch the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” over Christmas or New Years? I did - we have it on video and we normally watch it every year. Remember the story - God sends Clarence Oddbody, angel 2nd class, down to help George Bailey. George is about to take his life, and Clarence helps him remember how many other lives he has touched. In the end of the movie, Clarence leaves a book for George, Mark Twain, and he inscribes, “Remember, No man is a failure who has friends.”

I don’t know about the theology of that statement, but I know it has meant a lot to me through the years. Friends mean much to us in our lives. But this morning, I don’t want to think about friends, but about failure.

Have you ever been to the point George Bailey was, where you despaired so much you wanted to take your life? Maybe not, but most of us have been to the point where we felt like a failure. Especially at the beginning of the year, it’s easy to feel like a failure. Maybe you made some new year’s resolutions: maybe that 1000 calorie diet just got ruined by some double-chocolate Mocha ice cream. Maybe that goal of walking a mile every day fell by the wayside. Maybe the decision to read your Bible got way-laid by the new novel you’re reading. It’s easy to feel like a failure. Maybe some of us here today are feeling like a failure. This morning I’d like us to consider the wisdom of the Bible about this subject.

I. Why We Feel Like a Failure

The good news is that the Bible is filled with people who felt like failures. And some of these failures were some of the godliest individuals who walked the closest to God. We think about some of the great saints of the Bible: Abraham, Elijah, David, Peter. Often we think “I could never be a great saint like that” but the truth is they were human just like us. So, where do we see failure in the scriptures?

Let’s use for a text this morning 1 Kings 19. Here we see the great prophet Elijah, the prophet who had prayed and it didn’t rain for 3 years, the prophet who challenged all the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven: this is a man in touch with God, a man of great power. But here in this chapter, we see he is depressed and discouraged.

READ 1 Kings 19:1-18

Why do people feel like failures? With Elijah we see

*he focused on himself - he thought he was the only one doing right - he was having a pity party.

*he focused on his obstacles - he was worried about Queen Jezebel and her power. It’s funny that the man who called fire out of heaven would worry about the queen who’s men had just been killed as failures. But often depressed people don’t think right.

*he was ruled by his feelings - his depression came from fear. Satan played upon his fears to make him feel like a failure.

*he failed to trust God’s protection. Anytime we stop trusting God, we end up feeling like a failure. Remember one time Jesus told his disciples they were going to the other side of the lake. Jesus went to sleep in the boat. A storm came up, and the disciples were afraid. Jesus woke up, rebuked the storm, brought quiet, and asked his disciples why they had such little faith.

*we focus on our own abilities. God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. He told him to go set his people free. Moses first response was “who am I” to which God replied “I will go with you.” Next he said, “What if they don’t believe me” to which God showed him the power to change his rod to a snake and the ability to cause leprosy to come and go. Next he said, “I’m not a good speaker.” But God said, “I’ll send Aaron with you, he’s a good speaker.”

*often we feel like failures when we see our marriages, families, jobs, homes, situations in life are less than desirable. We are overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, despair. We all feel like failures. The big question is what can we do about it?

II. How we Overcome Failure

This morning I would like to suggest several steps to help us in overcoming feelings of failure. The Bible has much to say, and we could talk for weeks about this, but this morning I’ll offer just a few suggestions.

A. Adjust to God’s Focus - so often our feelings of failure come from a focus on ourselves and our own abilities. Rather, we need to purposely redirect our thinking to see things as God sees them. We need to remember that God is still in control of our lives.

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