When You Feel Like a Failure

I was already feeling done with the day, and I’d barely made it out of bed. I just don’t have it in me today, I sighed. I’ve given all I can this week. I’m wiped. I’m done. I just can’t push through.

Ever been there? That moment when you hit the brick wall knowing the day’s only just begun, yet there’s still more expected of you? Or maybe when you finally crack after days (months?) of trying to hold it all together and keep your emotions in check?

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, let me just say this: We can’t handle life. We just can’t. It’s too much for us. There’s not a one of us who can do it all or be everything to everyone.

God intentionally created us in such a way as to always, 100 percent of the time, be utterly dependent upon Him.

Does that mean feeling like a monumental failure is normal and acceptable? Is there no hope of ever surmounting a challenge or overcoming that feeling of hopelessness?

What if I told you there is no chance of you ever accomplishing enough, trying hard enough, or being smart enough to feel totally and completely good about yourself? That you can never successfully do enough to satisfy yourself or others? You probably would either ignore me out of determined defiance or crumple down in despair into a puddle of tears. Well, before you clench your fists or fall apart, hear me out.

God intentionally created us in such a way as to always, 100 percent of the time, be utterly dependent upon Him.

Think about it:

  • Who created your body?
  • Who told your lungs to breathe deeply or your heart to pump continuously?
  • Who created your personality?
  • Why do you think and process the way you do or enjoy the things you do?
  • Who created your environment and placed you in it?
  • Who selected your family members, your geographical location, your life experiences?

We all know the Sunday school answer, and in this case it’s the right answer—God!

Created to Be Dependent

When God created the universe, He didn’t set the earth in motion and then sit back to watch how everything would pan out. He didn’t leave man to discover life on his own when He formed him out of the dust of the ground. God spent time with His most precious creation (Gen. 3:8) nurturing the relationship, because you know what? God never intended man to live a life indifferent to and disconnected from his Creator. He made us to be dependent on Him.

It’s not that God has issues with micromanaging everything. He’s not manipulative or controlling; He’s sovereign and loving. God desires us to know Him intimately as He knows us. The very fact that He doesn’t leave us alone to figure out life is a testament to His love and care for us.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isa. 41:10).

Over and over again He promises to never leave us or forsake us.

That’s why when we’re tired, overwhelmed, ashamed . . . we can trust Him. Our strength may give out, but His never will. Our love may wane, but His never will. Our desire may falter, but His never will. Ever.

I’ve heard it said this way: “Anything that causes us to depend on Christ is a good thing.” Could you see your failures and shortcomings as a blessing if they drew you closer to Jesus?

Created for Community

We can know God is always with us and will fight for us because we can’t on our own. But we also know He’s not going to write that book report for us or show up at our door with a big bear hug and bar of chocolate or drive us to that doctor appointment. That’s why He intentionally placed us in a body of believers who are to show His love in practical and tangible ways.

Maybe for you that’s your parents or grandparents or siblings. Or perhaps your circle is wider and includes teachers, classmates, youth leaders, friends, or neighbors. The point is, we’re not made to walk through life alone. Because we all have real needs and real burdens, God created us to depend on each other.

In God’s Word, we are given instructions on how to interact with each other. In fact, the phrase “one another” is mentioned several dozen times in the New Testament alone. As the Body of Christ, we are called to:

Clearly God wants us to care about the horizontal relationships as well as the vertical. And if you’re not the one currently in need, consider the above commands and be alert to the needs around you. It just may be that those you comfort or encourage today will be the ones to come to your aid when it’s your turn for help.

It’s possible to take this principle too far and become dependent on people instead of on God. News flash: You cannot depend on your mom, sister, youth pastor, boyfriend, or best friend to always be there for you. They will fail you. But that doesn’t negate the importance of having brothers and sisters in Christ alongside us on this journey. It’s not either/or; it’s both/and. Yes, we must first and foremost rely on God for all things, but He knows we also need other Christians to encourage us to press on.

Christ’s perfect life frees you to live at peace with God despite your failures.

All Because of Jesus

Both of these things—God’s tender care and deep connection with brothers and sisters in Christ—are made possible because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. What would the Body of Christ be if you took away Christ? And how would we have access to the Father without the Son?

Remember how I said there is no chance of you ever accomplishing enough, trying hard enough, or being smart enough to feel totally and completely good about yourself? While that is true, the good news is that in Christ it is possible to find joy and satisfaction—not in yourself but in Him. Christ’s perfect life frees you to live at peace with God despite your failures.

So when you physically don’t have the energy to press forward, press in closer to God.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

When you are emotionally drained and have nothing left to give, give your burdens to God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. . . . And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:6–7, 10).

When you again fall prey to that same sin struggle, fall into the loving arms of Jesus.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. 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 (Heb. 4:14–16).

Have feeling of failure been ruling your days? How can you turn to Christ in dependence in your situation?

About Author

Leanna worked on staff with Revive Our Hearts from 2014 to 2019. She loves a cup of hot tea with a good book, experimenting in the kitchen with a new recipe, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals.

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