It wasn’t a failure

You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.
1 Thessalonians 2:1

But it had looked like it at one point. Apparently Paul had faced strong opposition when he had first preached in Thessalonica. People had accused him of preaching from false motives.

He was just after money.
He was just trying to tickle ears.
His teaching was heretical.

When the opposition was actually happening, most probably would have called Paul’s visit a failure. A waste of time even.

But we know it wasn’t a failure. And we know because this letter exists. Paul is writing to the church he established on that visit. Apparently the gospel had taken root and the church had even expanded after he left. Paul’s work wasn’t in vain.

Many of the things that we consider failures in our lives really aren’t failures at all. They’re just stepping-stones to God’s purposes in our lives.

It doesn’t feel this way immediately. In the middle or immediate aftermath of a failure, it can feel like our efforts and time were wasted. But this is not a necessary truth. We serve a God who can work all things for our good. Who can turn failures into successes. Or use them for successes.

I’ve seen this repeatedly in my own life.

One of the most discouraging days of my pastoral career was when our church was scheduled to sign a contract to occupy a facility as an additional campus. Everything looked promising, but then we were shut down at the last minute. On the surface, it looked like a failure. But a year later we ended up getting the building when we were more ready and better positioned for optimal impact. We’ve now seen hundreds come to Christ in that building.

It wasn’t a failure.

There have been sermons I have preached that I thought I did a terrible job delivering. And then hundreds of hands would shoot up during the invitation.

It wasn’t a failure.

I’ve had speaking engagements where I had no clue why I was there. It felt like a waste of time. But then I would meet someone who years later has now significantly impacted my life.

It wasn’t a failure.

I’m not saying things don’t go wrong or according to plan. Or that you’re never going to experience failure. Because you are. Plans are going to fall through. Expectations aren’t going to be met.

But you have to keep the perspective that there is no failure in your life that is beyond God’s power to use for good and turn into a success. Your screwups can become God’s setup for what He wants to do you in your life. Your greatest disappointments can become God’s greatest display of His power to work redemption.

Your failures might not turn out to be failures after all.