Lessons Learned from Failure

Deborah Sybil   |   October 16, 2020 

Year 2008

Category: Visitor visa application to UK for clinical observership at an NHS Hospital

My prayer: Dear Lord, You know that I need this opportunity. A future job at this hospital will help me pay back my study loans. I have been a great student throughout and I am a deserving candidate. Please grant me the visa.


Year 2009

Category: Work visa application to UK as Junior Resident at an NHS Hospital with valid work permit number

My prayer: Dear Lord, I don’t know what went wrong the last time. I have worked harder, cleared the exams and now I have a work permit number. I should get the visa this time around. You know I need this job. Please remove all hinderances.


Year 2011

Category: Work visa application to UK as Junior Resident at another NHS Hospital, with valid work permit number

My prayer: Dear Lord, this is a fresh opportunity. This job is the perfect solution for my situation Lord. Once I pay my study loans, I will go and work wherever you want me to. This wouldn’t have been offered to me without Your will. Please make it happen this time.


My response: Why, Lord, why? It is beyond my understanding why you would not want me to work in UK! I have the relevant degrees, I am capable and, above all, I need it. You know I am not asking this out of greed or for luxury. It would take years to pay my loans without this visa and job. I worked hard to get the job. Couldn’t you just give me the visa? Why, Lord, why?


All of us have failure stories – some small and some big, some remain personal and some become public (to our embarrassment). There could be many reasons for failure but there is one consequence that none of us should miss out on - learning from our failures. A failure story would be a wasted experience if we did not learn from it. God teaches us and trains us through our failures. A more important question to ask is 'what can I learn from this' rather than ‘why did I fail?' Here are my lessons from my failure story . . .

Blessings are not rewards
We tend to consider blessings as a reward for good behaviour. Sometimes we even try to bargain for them. Lord, I will do what you ask of me . . . if you do what I ask of you. In my story, I believed that a particular job should be mine because I deserved it; also, that God would (and should) grant my requests because they were justified, rational, and logical. We begin to assume our right on certain blessings because we believe we deserve them, we worked hard for them. What we fail to understand is that God blessings are independent of our worth. Jeremiah 17:7 says "Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord and whose hope the Lord is." Psalm 34:8b also says that the man who trusts in Him is blessed. The word of God does not ask for our merits/worth or for us to be deserving to be blessed by God.

The living word instead reveals that all our needs will be met according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Not just our needs, our desires too will be fulfilled when we discipline our hearts (and minds) to desire according to His will for us. Many times, what we want from God is our answer and therefore we fail to recognise His answer when it comes. When we listen and accept His answer we also need to willingly and cheerfully obey it.

Not my will but Yours be done
This is the most difficult prayer to pray. We want to hold the reins in our hands and direct life on our terms, on our understanding of right and wrong. But let us remember that even the Son of God cried to His father asking for the cup to be taken away only if it is His will (Luke 22:42). The Word of God asks us to trust the Lord with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). And rightly so, because where would our understanding be compared to God’s wisdom? Even when we think we are praying in conformity with God’s will, it is entirely possible that our understanding of the matter needs readjusting.

Our seemingly perfect but short-sighted solution for situations may prove to be a disastrous plan in the future. The solutions I found for my problems were perfect in my understanding. Was I really thinking that by finding my own solutions I would lessen one matter for God to sort out? Abraham’s wife, Sarah thought her plan was perfect. She did not wait for God’s providence and we know how that worked out. God knows our future and He knows what is best for us. If we knew what God knew, we would give ourselves the identical blessing that He does. None of his rewards/blessings are worthless. Let us learn to trust in His wisdom for the perfect solutions which He will provide in His time.

My prayer should have been – Lord, this seems like a good opportunity! It suits my situation so well. But is it in Your will for me? Guide me, dear Lord. Am I blindly following the pattern set by my seniors at work? Is there some other way I can pay my loans? The qualification exams and the visa process will in itself cost me more money. Is there a better plan for me? Reveal to me Lord, whether or not to proceed.

Blessings prepare us for our earthly role in His kingdom; that we, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). Take Moses for example, he was blessed with the gift of life to be a future leader of Israel. When God met him at the burning bush, Moses had no qualities of a national leader; He was a stutterer and an outlaw on the run from the Pharaoh. But God saw what man could not see. Moses spent his early days in the Pharaoh’s palace and must have known his way around it and this qualified him for the job God had in mind. The 40 years he spent in the wilderness caring for his father-in-law’s sheep must have prepared him for his role of leading Israel through the same wilderness for another 40 years! The experience gained in the palace and in the wilderness were blessings that prepared Moses for his role in God’s kingdom.

We, in our human understanding, would not consider these experiences blessings. God is willing to give us rich life experiences to build in us qualities that are useful for His kingdom. The only question is, are we willing to listen to Him and follow His path for us?


Photo by David Kovalenko on Unsplash

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Deborah Sybil

Deborah loves reading, enjoys cooking and is ready with book/restaurant suggestions for all who ask. She likes travelling and interacting with almost anyone she meets. Nothing interests her as much as the riches of God's word and His work in the present times. She is a professor of Oral Surgery by vocation and lives in Delhi with her husband, Augustine and two adorable sons, Caleb and Bryan.

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5 comments on “Lessons Learned from Failure”

  1. Hind side reveals God's gracious plans for our lives.. If we are ready to trust and walk under His guidance. Very well written Debbie! The Creator knows the end from the beginning.

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