When We Feel We’ve Failed
By Jennifer Slattery
“You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived; You overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.” Jeremiah 20:7
It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve initiated. My grandmother was dying of cancer, and my heart burned to tell her about Jesus. After much prayer, I obeyed. My husband and I flew across the country, drove two hours to her retirement community, and took her to lunch. Then he dropped us off at her place, took our daughter, and left, giving my grandmother and I privacy.
Stomach knotted, I shared with her God’s truth, then I watched as her inner struggle played out on her face. She’d seem receptive, then in a flash, her features hardened, and she’d pull away. I left feeling as if I’d failed. Those feelings deepened the next day when my uncle called, angry, and told me never to “do that” to my grandmother again.
God sees the past, present, and future and every action we’ll ever take. Which means, He knew how my grandmother would respond. Yet I felt certain He had sent me to her. Why? So that she could reject my message?
Almost 3,000 years ago, God’s prophet experienced similar rejection, but amplified. God called him to warn His idolatrous people of impending judgment. Perhaps Jeremiah expected his countrymen to repent. Instead, the prophet was whipped and put in stocks in front of the temple, publically humiliated.
He’d courageously obeyed, and this was the response? It felt as if God had set him up for failure. “You deceived me, Lord,” he said. By the end of his prayer, however, truth had settled into his heart and initiated praise. “But the Lord stands before me like a great warrior” (Jer. 20:11), he said.
Our obedience may not result as we hope, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t in it. To the contrary; He stays close to our side, pointing us not to tangible results but to Him, our prize. The next time you feel as if your efforts have failed, remember, obedience always equals success, regardless of the results or other people’s response.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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Originally published Monday, 05 August 2019.