Called to Courage - Facing our Fear
Even if a decision seems easy or the way ahead seems clear, barriers can stop us from stepping into the callings God has placed on our lives. What holds us back? Above all, fear can hold us back from the callings God has for us.
The key to overcoming such fear is recognizing we have a God Who is bigger than even our greatest failings. How often have I tasted the bitterness of disappointments, fears, and failures, only to find that, by His Spirit, sweetness arises out of them? Years after a bitter disappointment, I realize that the very failure has taught me lessons I would never have learned otherwise, and that the result was far more enriching than success at the time could ever have been.
Quite recently, I had to face the pain of acute disappointment and failure. About two years ago, a number of colleagues and I began to create a private investment fund. We rented offices; we recruited people to work on this new idea; we started raising money. Then, a few months into the new venture, it was quite clear that the market had moved against us, and we had to face a decision of whether to linger on or to cut our losses and admit failure—not an experience I’d often had before. But there it was—the heartache, the failed dreams, the unmet expectations, the disappointment of having to let people go. Still lingering was belief that it might have been able to work, if only we’d had more time and the markets had been a little more moderate. But it was the end of the road. The failure was acute and the pain intense. It still is.
But I take my strength in the knowledge that Jehovah-Rapha, my God and my Savior Who turns the bitter into the sweet, will take my struggle and work on me in the midst of this failure.
Doubtless, we will all fail at something at some point in our lives. But we will never be failures. For that to happen Christ within us would have to fail. And He won’t. It’s a vital distinction.
There’s a lesson for us here. Don’t linger on the inevitable failures. Do learn, but don’t look back, and certainly not in anger. Move on in confidence that you have God by your side. One hears many leaders and managers declaring in a blustering tone to their teams, “Failure is not an option!” But this is wrong. Being willing to fail is an essential part of our callings.
As Christians, we are carriers of a great hope: hope in a God who is above and beyond all things, hope that places of darkness and despair might be transformed into places of life and light. But the hardest thing about this great hope is that we don’t know how it is going to play out in our individual lives. We are called to face an uncertain future in confidence, but we are not fortune-tellers. Ecclesiastes 8:7 says, “Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?” It is only God Who sees all things and knows all things. Whenever we step out in faith, we take a risk.
One great truth that I have continuously learned throughout my life: often the long and tortuous route is more fruitful than the quick shortcut. We frequently learn deeper lessons in the byways than on the highways.