Have you ever failed at something? Our western culture has wired us to fear failure. I once failed a class in college and I found out it was not the end of the world - I just took it again. I find it interesting how many times our fears of something become so exaggerated that they can paralyze us, when in reality failing at something can contribute to our forward progress. I’ve learned to question what I fear and analyze it – it’s not always bad. (Please note that intentional and repeated attempts to fail will be counterproductive😊).
Our culture has an aversion towards fear and failure. We run from fear and failure, we spend money to avoid fear and failure. We frequently think we are defective when we experience fear and failure.
Fear and failure both play a major role in Mark’s gospel.
The disciples were afraid when Jesus calmed the storm (4:40). They were afraid when the crazed demon possessed man was “clothed and in his right mind” (5:15). Those following Jesus to Jerusalem were afraid (10:32). The disciples and the women following Jesus all failed to faithfully follow him. But they were never shamed or disowned. They were forgiven and restored.
But what about Jesus? Did Jesus experience fear?
Mark records that Jesus was “distressed and troubled” in Gethsemane as he anticipated the cross and all it meant (14:33). The sense of “distressed” is to alarm thoroughly, to terrify. The sense of “troubled” carries the idea of being depressed. In fact, this is the strongest of the three Greek words in the New Testament for depression.
I find it comforting that Jesus experienced pressure, stress, trouble – for that means he can relate to my issues, my pressures (which of course, are mild compared to bearing the sins of the world). Hebrews 4:15-16 put it this way,
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
He was distressed and troubled, yet he did not sin and that gives us confidence, not in ourselves, but in Him.
Did Jesus experience failure? Interesting question, and the answer depends on your point of view. If you were a Pharisee, you’d likely view Jesus as a rogue Rabbi who failed. Certainly, most Roman citizens would count anyone hanging on a cross as a failure. Yet, Jesus successfully accomplished the goals that his Father set out for him.
What looked like failure to others was actually success in the eyes of the Father.
Let that sink in.
We can be doing the right thing, but it can look like failure to others.
Are you OK with that? Or, do you seek the approval of man?
Fear and failure do not define us. And the approval of man should not motivate us.
What defines us? The perfect obedience, faithfulness of Jesus. I have nothing to fear because I’ve placed my faith in Him.
What motivates us? Not fear of failure, but the unconditional love of Jesus.
So, I hope you will find an anchoring in Jesus that releases you from the fear of failure today.