When we think of Christianity, many try to strive to be perfect for God. They want to present the best version of themselves to the Lord. However, that’s not always necessary. God understands that not everyone is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be successful. There are many characters in the bible that didn’t always live up to expectations of the Lord, but it didn’t stop them from becoming amazing Christians. Check out these 5 bible characters that faced many failures, but still came out successful next to Jesus.
Joseph was 17 the first time he had his dreams about ruling over his family. We can read in the bible though the dream wasn’t about being their king or boss, as his brothers misinterpreted it. No, bowing before Joseph, in the dream, didn’t mean he was going to be the king of Israel or the leader of the family. The dreams meant that Joseph was going to be divinely placed in a position with the power and the influence to save Israel, not only as a family, but as a future nation.
However, the misinterpretation of Josephs’ dreams caused his brothers anger and envy. They just lost it over a dream and tried to kill him and then they sold him into slavery. After being bought and “exported” to Egypt he found a nice job but being a hardworking, wise and handsome young man caused him more trouble than he ever thought. An ambitious lady put her eyes on him. After declining her “friend requests”, he was “sued” for sexual harassment, and because the lady’s husband was not only the offended partner but also Joseph’s boss, judge, and ruler, poor Joe ended up getting undeserved punishment in jail.
Did Joseph fail though? This article is about failures but the bible doesn’t tell us that Joseph committed any mistake or sin. He was human and at some point he felt like a failure himself. He probably thought he was “Bad luck Joe”. His mother did a good job of teaching him the scriptures and the sovereignty of God. Arising from his own human doubts and questions, he put his loyalty and faith in God above everything.<>
Hey, most Christians almost worship bible heroes. They think that people from the bible never had any bad thought or made any mistake. They love David who had many wives and concubines, murdered an innocent man and committed adultery with the man’s wife and got her pregnant. So if our beloved David was actually a sinner, why couldn’t Joseph be just as human as all of us and have bad thoughts, or a moments of doubts. I’m pretty sure he had a few. Jesus had his moment at Gethsemane, didn’t he?
We’ve all read about Joseph’s way to Egypt’s center of detention, but let’s read about the victory God gave him after Joseph showed stewardship of his spiritual gift and loyalty and integrity and many other things:
Genesis 41: 39-42 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
If Joseph lived in our time, everyone would probably consider him a loser, but God knew his heart, just as He knows yours. If you stay loyal, faithful to God, and keep exercising that gift or talent he has given you, there will be a day when victory will come. You will arise, not to be king, rich or famous, but to be in a position of influence where God will use you in a mighty way – not for your glory, but for his glory.. So don’t even think about the usual selfie picture for Facebook, when you get to that place…ok?
THERE was a man who had everything a modern rapper, (or anybody else) can wish: Money, money, money, a good name, health, and a beautiful family. But then, Mr. Satan the accuser went to God and asked for permission to mess with Job's life. Tragedy struck and Job lost his wealth. Next, a storm took the lives of all his children. Then, a debilitating disease that left his whole body covered with painful boils came in to finally kill him (or that was what the devil first thought).
Did Job have a bad moment and think of himself as a failure? Oh yeah, but not only that, his own wife told him he was a loser and according to a couple of bible versions she even suggested that he should curse God (and lose his relationship with him forever) and die. If she were a modern wife, she would've probably filed for divorce and asked for alimony, loss of income, etc., get the divorce and then go party every weekend with her friends while Job dies of his horrible illness without anybody to take care of him.
Job 3: After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it.
However, Job, as Joseph, stayed loyal to God's will and sovereignty. It looks like everybody else wanted him to quit and die. “Hey, loser, quit and die, and free us of the burden of watching your pain, because, number one, we don’t want to be reminded that it can happen to any of us, at any time and number two, because we really don’t want to hang out and care for a loser.” After all, how many people like to take selfies with a loser? "Here, for Instagram, let me take a pic of me kissing your painful sores" "Hey Facebook, today is taking care of Job the loser day, use the hashtag #ilose or tag your friends and wish Job a quick and easy death so we can all be free of this, and all losers." Pictures like these will never go viral.
But God’s response to Job's loyalty went so viral that it ended up in the bible as a live example of how God rewards faithfulness and true faith. Job didn’t name it and claim it. He didn’t rebuke his illness in the name of... God... He just looked up with patience to our Sovereign God and waited for his deliverance, and furthermore, blindly trusted in God, even if his deliverance was death in public humiliation (just like someone else who died in public humiliation, do you remember His name? want a hint? Starts with J.)
We read on Job 42:10-12 “…. the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. (And then, selfie time!) All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. (Bling!!! I knew it!!)
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” Well, I hope God forgave Job’s wife and she enjoyed the latter blessings with him. It looks like this bible story centers too much on material wealth and some even use it as a doctrinal basis for all their “get rich quick oh ye christian” nonsense… read carefully, the main subject of the book is about how you must keep your own identity as a child of God, and do not let any external storm to change your faith and loyalty to God. We may suffer in this world but Jesus will always be with us, even if we look like losers to the world. Can I get an amen?
According to the modern school of ministry, Moses was an insecure loser. According to our political system, Moses was an exiled total loser. According to himself, at one point of his life, Moses was an undeserving, unwilling to cooperate, coward loser. Sorry if I’m too hard on poor “Moshe”, but he gave God all the excuses in the Egyptian books to not obey and to not do what God was asking him to do. Read this and ask yourself if this sounds like you.
God, I can’t do what you want me to do because, I have a terrible, horrible, past, I’ve sinned, I killed, I lied, I ran away, I betrayed my family’s confidence, I relinquished my spiritual talents, I’m full of hate, and I suffer of stage fright!! And those were just a few of Moses excuses…
Please read the whole Exodus book. You will see how Moses had his own identity problems, needed some anger management classes, started his political career with the wrong foot (by killing his adversary) then ran away to hide from everyone including God. There was certainly a specific calling in Moses. He felt it, he knew it, however Egyptian Sunday schools didn’t really teach about a sovereign God who has his own time and place for everything, including our calling and dreams and for when all of them will happen and come true.
Young Moses knew there was a living God, kind of. He was in disagreement with the establishment and wanted a better life for his people, but his trust was in his human skills, which were brutally shattered after he failed to promote himself as a potential leader of a new political party. Don’t get me wrong here. This was all about power and politics at this stage of young Moses life.
The day came to face God almighty, but even after all the pain and struggle he went through for 80 years, I can feel from his responses to God that he was not yet very convinced about this “divine calling thing.”
I can see he was an intellectual, science first, kind of believer. God had to give him true supernatural signs to impress pharaoh and not just tricks out of the Egyptian books of magic that could also be replicated by Egypt’s sorcerers. He also went on to question the how and why of God in almost every step to the Promised Land. Does it look or sound like you and me…? Well, maybe Moses and I are the only ones who question God’s plans every day.
It was in the exile, lonely and we can say poor, humiliated, working in the worst job ever for someone who used to wear those fancy pharaoh’s hats and used to walk as an Egyptian (sing it!) ate the best kabobs and used to wash his hair with royal cow urine. (They did, it turned their hair orangeeish).
It was here, working as a humble shepherd in the worst place ever, unsure of who he was anymore and with a feeling of being far from his calling (as a loser) when he finally came to know face to face the power and presence of the true God.
He had his excuses of course, but God is also the creator of perseverance. God himself insisted on Moses calling and assure him that if he kept his faith and believed, he, Moses will lead the people of Israel out of slavery. As a homework assignment, please read Exodus.
Gideon, a young man whose only thought was gathering food and hiding from the Midianites. We saw how Moses even questioned God’s motives, the what and why of his mission and calling, now read about Gideon. Do you see a pattern? Do you see men and women of God debating with the almighty why they’ve been called and what is the true purpose of their mission? It looks like most of them did. Even Jesus had his moment of truth (or doubt) at the Gethsemane. Do you know why men and women of God have their doubts and want to ask God for explanations and signs? Because God actually calls smart people; intelligent, wise people with their own point of view of the situation God is trying to change. Doubts and questions are not bad; God knows you have something you’ve been trying to ask him for a long time. The failure is in giving in to the doubts and getting defeated by our lack of insider’s (divine) information. You must persevere even if you don’t understand and that’s how we actually learn wisdom. You must know the information you need, but persevering will teach you how and when to apply it and this, my friend, is called wisdom.
God sees in you something beyond your own understanding of your skills, traits and talents. He is looking for Godly wisdom not a perfect GPA. By the way, I know very successful people with a below average GPA, and many of their employees have a perfect GPA. I could go further explaining why, but we’ll save that for another time.
Let’s read about Isaiah 6:18 (here I am, send me) antithesis. Read below Gideon’s response to God, because it sounds like: “Here I am not, can you send someone else?
1 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Oprah (Ophra!!!) that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
Long story short, God gave Gideon the signs he was asking for. Gideon finally decides to go against the Midianites, but God had to train him and teach him some organization and logistics along the way and this was probably the time when the Israelites created Krav-Maga. (You should see a Krav-Maga fight, I’m sure you will support my tongue in cheek theory).
After reading about Gideon, he definitely doesn’t strike me as the typical Israelite hero but, hey, who can debate with God and win? Guess who… you and I can. Gideon was a hero, a warrior in God’s heart just as you are. You can debate God about why you believe He is wrong and He may even concede some of your requests and changes to the calling, but you are still a hero and your time of victory will come if you believe him. I didn’t say, if you believe in him. I said, if you believe him. There is a difference between those 2 “believe”.
When preachers describe the Apostle Peter, they speak of him as if he was a caveman. The caveman from the insurance ad looks smarter than Peter to some preachers, before the anointing of the Holy Spirit of course. But, I believe I can prove that Peter was actually a very smart, experienced, businessman.
The perception that the disciples were people without formal schooling was not from God, but from people who thought they knew them. They didn’t know them as well as Jesus knew them and we read before that He doesn’t call dumb people.
You may not have a college degree, or a ministry degree, but that doesn’t stop you from having other gifts. I’m pretty sure the gifts are there., I’m not sure however if you believe and know your talents and gifts are there.
Peter was a fisherman and I know many fishermen. They look humble and rude in the outside but they are some of the wisest people I ever met. Always hard working, they don’t fear taking on a big, dangerous task. They are ready to face just about any kind of threat or enemy and they have their own fighting and survival skills. They, and even the humblest of them, know how to manage a medium sized boat, know all the tricks to store and preserve their fish and the food they need for long fishing trips. Well, who doesn’t? Modern boats have it all right? No, I was talking about 70’s fishermen. As far as I remember there were almost no electronic or digital perks on their boats. Just an old battery powered radio. No cell phones, no satellite phones, no tv signal, videogames, fancy freezers, nothing… Yes, there was a time when cell phones didn’t exist, believe it or not…
Fishermen know how to manage people and especially being with a few rude guys for weeks in the same boat, they learn to be understanding, forgiving, always cheerful and ready to cheer up others who feel homesick… These are just a few skills I saw in my fishermen friends.
So, when I read about Peter being a dumb, rude, stupid, uneducated man and how Jesus suddenly changed him into a smart preacher, I think this perception is far from the truth. Yes, he denied Jesus, which was one of his biggest failures. Yes, he was a little foul mouthed. He was also a hypocrite, as Paul called him later, but, Jesus didn’t choose a guy using some sort of "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" game. He knew Peter very well and because He knew him, He chose him. God does not choose you and me just by random luck. He knows us, we may have a few failures in our records, but we can learn from Joseph, Job, Moses, Gideon and Peter that despite weakness and failure, we can be used mightily by our all-powerful God, because He knows us and He is willing to discuss and debate with us his plans and his reasons for calling us.
I know other folks from the bible that can be an example for us of success after failure. Stay tuned. We will write about them soon.