Failures into Victories

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A seeming failure may not be what you think it is. Sometimes God uses our biggest challenges to produce great victories.

I tend to be the optimistic/Pollyanna type of person. (You’ve figured that out already, huh?) I can dream big dreams and envision such fun, exciting projects.

Sometimes, those big dreams don’t exactly come to fruition, though. And when they don’t? Oh my. Stand back. Because you’re gonna have one disappointed girl on your hands.

Just ask my husband. 

I can pout with the best of them. I think the Optimism just takes over my mind so that it’s really hard for me to think when Reality won’t let me have my way. It messes with me. And I don’t like it.

Failure or Victory?

However, I’m finding comfort and joy in watching God turn my “failures” into victories.

Here are some examples:

:: Years ago, we thought we would make a living “flipping houses” in Kansas City. The economy was booming and why not? Our first fixer-upper turned out not to be as fun as we thought. Instead of selling it and/or leveraging its equity on another mortgage-ridden purchase, we rented it out. Now, I’m so thankful for that seeming “failure.” Otherwise, we could be into a lot of debt in a down economy.

We still have a rental we wish we didn’t own. But, I consider this a victory compared to where we could be if things had “gone our way.” God knew so much better than we did.

:: A year or two later we found ourselves in debt. But, if it hadn’t been for that debt, we never would have done something as drastic and weird as paying it all off and going debt-free.

How ironic does that sound? But, it’s true; that season of financial failure was the wake-up call we needed to turn ourselves around. And God knew that, too.

:: Another disappointment of mine occurred about four years ago when I applied for a writing job with At the time, it was a great writing gig that I really wanted. And I was sure that I would get the job I applied for. I was devastated when, instead, I got the rejection notice.

At the same time I started researching blogging. Life as MOM was born less than three months later. You and I might never have met if I had gotten that job! I have learned so much personally and spiritually and grown so much as a writer by investing in this lil’ place. I’m not sure I would have done the same writing for someone else.

:: Almost two years ago I approached a book editor about a cookbook idea. I wrote up a proposal and he (very politely) rejected it. I took it hard, imagining a big “L” emblazoned on my forehead. However, a friend picked me up and dusted me off, and I got to work on a better proposal, found a great agent, and met the right publisher for the project.

It has turned out to be a better experience — and a better book — than I originally hoped for. (God gets the glory for that one, too.)

Black cloud or silver lining?

I’m not saying that every black cloud has a silver lining. Sometimes life is just hard.

But, at the same time, I think that disappointments can be turned around. The thing that we thought we wanted really isn’t what will do us the most good. And we aren’t really the Authors of our stories, are we? Thank Heavens!

  • Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and things looked pretty desperate for a time. And yet, that “failure” resulted in his ability to save generations and nations from starvation and even spiritual death.


  • Lazarus appeared to be dead. And even Jesus wept. But, something wonderful happened that changed their mourning into laughter.


  • Jesus was dead and buried when the women went to the tomb that sad Sunday morning. Yet, there was victory there that they could not even dream of.

The beginnings of something better?

Disappointments may come. Hard things may fall in your way. And yet, they may be just the beginning of something better.

God is infinitely capable of redeeming those hard times, of turning a rock into a diamond, of weaving a warped thread into a beautiful tapestry.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21

How have you seen God transform hard things into good?

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  1. Crying hard, my friend, and praying even harder… that I may grasp this and find some clarity. You know I’m struggling right now, but I also know your words are true. xoxo

  2. I love this post. God always knows better then we do.

    My ex husband was a very difficult man who suffered from (a now diagnosed) mental condition and he believed women were inferior to him. I spent many wasted years wishing things would be different and praying that my optimism would eventually change things. One day I realized it wasn’t ever going to change. I had to be the one to change. So I left.

    I prayed hard and talked to God about what I didn’t want in my life anymore and told God that I trusted him and his plan for me.

    Less than 6 weeks later, I met a man who was the total opposite of the men I’m usually interested in. But in a very long conversation the night we met, we touched on every single subject that I had just 3 weeks previously, spoke with God about. While I was extremely gun shy and professed that I absolutely was not interested in any relationship, I also realized that this was God’s way of hitting me over the head with a 2×4. Needless to say, we were married just 18 months later and our daughter was born 18 months after we were married. I’m one of those lucky people who are ridiculously happily married.

    I’m so glad that I listened to what God was trying to tell me and I’m incredibly grateful that I trusted in his plan for me. What amounted to failure big time in my eyes resulted in a major victory for me and for us as a family.

  3. And this is why I enjoy reading your blog. I am the same way, always optimistic, knowing that any hardships given to me by God are only to direct me to where I need to be. I feel like I’ve had a blessed life, yet when I look back there were hard points. But they seem so small as they are now part of the big picture!

  4. Thanks for this so much this morning. I am in the midst of caring for/living with my mom in the stages of dementia. Feeling overwhelmed this morning and this is totally what I need to be reminded of. The very first three things I read on FB this morning were along the same lines. God is Good. I have been through a lot of changes in my life the last two years and it is wonderful to know that He is an on-time God with whatever form of refreshing you need at that time.

    1. Bless you as you care for you mom! What a wonderful example to others that is. God does see.

  5. Thank you for your post. I have enjoyed reading your blog for about a year now. You seem to be a very down to earth person, who is very good at giving the average woman, in this day and age, hope that normal and real people can make a difference. Thank you for being honest.

  6. I’ve had several huge disappointments in my profesional life and to be honest I’m still dealing with some of the emotional stuff. Welcome to being in the arts. Both my husband and I struggle with reconciling educational and professional decisions we wish we would have done differently but the decisions we did make have lead to very fulfilling personal lives. The bottom line is we wouldn’t trade where we are for any amount of success so I guess that’s a good thing. 🙂

    You mention your debt being a good thing. I feel the same way. Had I not learned the hard way with regard to credit cards when I was younger and single I’m not sure I would be as content or financially responsible now. I’m thankful I learned that lesson when I did.

    1. Well, generally speaking, I wouldn’t say that debt was a “good thing.” But, most people don’t see it as bad, either. I think we learned that it was risky behavior we were better off without! LOL

      1. Yes, I meant “good” in the sense that it helped you learn. 🙂 Stupid tax, as Dave Ramsey says.

        1. While I generally believe in Dave Ramsey’s message, I find the “stupid tax” comment of his irritating. We went into debt while dealing with two high risk pregnancies including neonatal intensive care that resulted in two beautiful, healthy daughters. I would go into debt again without hesitation to have my girls. We racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses despite having very good insurance. This while living in a 900-sq-ft home and driving a 13 year old car in a so-so neighborhood. We were not stupid. We put family and health before money management.

          1. I used to listen to Dave a lot. I don’t think that he would call your situation “stupid”. I think he’s referring more to people like me who charged dumb, unnecessary purchases on their credit card when it was beyond their means. I don’t think he’d ever tell someone not to pay for medical care, even if it wasn’t in the budget. At least, that’s how I look at the whole “stupid tax” thing. For me it was situations when I’ve donated or sold expensive items that I shouldn’t have bought in the process. The fact that I can’t get its original value back, that is my stupid tax.

  7. I loved reading this post this morning. It made me think of one of my favorite songs. Part of the chorus goes, “Instead of all those things I thought I really wanted, I’ve been given what I need.” Truly our Heavenly Father loves us and knows us intimately. He loves us so much that He gives us what we need in order to grow and become more like Him. What a wonderful thought for today! Thank you!

  8. Thank you for your post this morning! I have seen first hand how God uses “failure” and turns them into “victories.” About three years ago I discovered that my husband had been unfaithful to me for our entire thirteen year marriage. God used this situation to renew my relationship with Jesus, and to start my husband and four daughters on a journey of christianity. We also paid off all of our debt and downsized our home. Our faith and our downsize has prepared us for my husband’s recent job loss (Oct ’11). Thanks to this preparation we were in a decent financial situation when he lost his job and we’ve been able to spend some much needed time as a couple and a family. We were able to see the job loss as a blessing instead of a disaster.
    We are continuing to learn to “trust in Him and NOT on our own understanding.” He indeed can pull us out of the pit and turn all things good. How great is our God!

  9. What a powerful post! I struggle a lot with waiting for God’s perfect timing and not being able to always be “in control”. I rest on the fact that He knows what’s best for me and that He is in control of my life.

  10. Thank you for sharing your “failures” in such a beautiful way. I had trouble at first getting through this post because I found myself getting cynical. I stopped and asked God to open my mind to your experience, and I realized that I was really thinking: “Yes, but when I fail it is really awful.” Or, “But I need/deserve the things I miss out on.” It will be much more graceful for me to recognize that my failures are in His control. Thank you for the reminder, one that was itself graceful enough to leave me room to figure out why I couldn’t initially connect.

    1. Thanks for your kind and honest words. I’ve certainly had worse things happen to me, but I didn’t want to presume too much on God or treat really hard things lightly. I felt like these examples were somewhere in the middle?

  11. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it here. After four long and really hard years (mostly financial) I feel like my family and I are finally walking out of a tunnel and into the sunlight. I am happy for that, but frequently struggle with, “So what exactly was going on back there God?? What was your ‘bigger plan’?” Your words encouraged me to keep my eyes on Jesus and what he’s doing. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for that. God is good, and He does what is best for us! Praise Him.

    And I, too, am very glad that you didn’t get that job with May the Lord continue to bless your writing endeavors.

    Annie Kate

  13. I so agree. We made a move (cross country) that we thought would be great. It ended up being the hardest two years of our lives, but the resulting move was just what we needed. My husband and I often comment that even though it was rough we KNOW we wouldn’t be where we are now if it hadn’t happened that way.

    1. Our last two moves have been exactly that. We love where we are now and wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the last train wreck.

  14. Jessica, this has got to be my very favorite post of yours *ever*! So very, very true.

    Sometimes, it feels like God is making such a mess of the tapestry of my life. I mean, come on, wouldn’t *my* ideas be better? But over and over as He’s worked through the stubbornness and idolatry, I’ve caught just a glimpse of the why. And it’s always so much better than what I’d wanted…. even if it was also much harder.

  15. I don’t understand why people think God is controling us like puppets. Things just happen to us in life, good and bad. We live in a sin cursed world and we have to go through good and bad things on this earth. It’s just life. People will have bad things happen to them and think that somehow God is punishing them for something “bad” they did or “teaching” them something through their bad circumstances. When something good happens we say that God led us there. We need to realize that if you believe what the Bible says to us TODAY under grace, there is NO ONE good, NO NOT ONE and just because we “think” we are good and that God somehow is doing things for us just doesn’t line up with scripture today. Sure the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people WERE blessed because of their obeying the law but today we are under grace. EVERYONE that puts their faith in the finished work of the cross is blessed with heavenly blessings. We are blessed because we are under His grace. When Israel rebelled against the law, they were cursed just as they were blessed when they did obey. Within the body of Christ, our circumstances have NOTHING to do with our blessing in Christ. How can one person under grace receive something and another be denied? What we have in our life as we deal with the every day struggles has EVERYTHING to do with US and the choices we make. God has done His part. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us His word to know exactly what to do. He speaks to you through His word, not your circumstances.

  16. AMEN! You are so correct. Reminds me of the praise song “He gives and takes away, but still my heart will say, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Which is the exact song that came on the radio the day I cashed my inheritance check. My mother may be gone, and I would trade that whole check and everything I own for another day with her, but out of that loved filled financial gift she left me, came a journey of renovating three homes that brought my husband and I closer together than we have ever been. Oh the giggles we have shared, the frustrations the tears, all while renovating side by side. Its not a journey I would have ever picked but its turning out pretty good.

  17. Thank you for this post. It reminded me of a short video I recently watched of a young mother describing her battle with colon cancer from her perspective and, in her words, how she believes God would describe it. If you are interested, the link is on her caringbridge site:

  18. Well given my particular set of circumstances these past several months, God must be planning on giving me (think of something clever, Annie), Well something really good.

    I truly needed to read this for the strenghth to face my stupidity and for trusting that whatever happens He planned it and it wasn’t the result of my sin because He is the Un-doer of Knots.