Often a Failure

Author Unknown


Too often, it seems to me, people lose their courage in facing life because of past failures or fear that they may fail in the future. One good way to cure such fears is to remember the story of a man who actually built a life of accomplishments out of defeats.

The following litany of failures, followed by victories that punctuated his life throughout 30 years, is a living and eloquent example of successful use of defeat in achieving victory. Abraham Lincoln' s record is as follows:

  • Lost job, 1832
  • Defeated for legislature, 1832
  • Failed in business, 1833
  • Elected to legislature, 1834
  • Sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died, 1835
  • Had nervous breakdown, 1836
  • Defeated for Speaker, 1838
  • Defeated for nomination for Congress, 1843
  • Elected to Congress, 1846
  • Lost renomination, 1848
  • Rejected for Land Officer, 1849
  • Defeated for Senate, 1854
  • Defeated for nomination for Vice-President, 1856
  • Again defeated for Senate, 1858
  • Elected President, 1860

Lincoln's deep conviction that God had given him a commission to fulfill accounted in no small way for his deep humility and ability to push on in the face of difficulties and failures that would have discouraged most people. His abiding faith was well summed up in this comment, which he made after becoming President: "God selects His own instruments, and sometimes they are queer ones; for instance, He chose me to steer the ship through a great crisis."

Yes, you too, in God's providence, can be an instrument in bringing His love, truth, and peace to a world in urgent need of it. And with Abraham Lincoln, you can learn to say: "With God's help I shall not fail."

For Further Study

Verses to Consider

  • Psalms 119:67, 71, 75
  • Jeremiah 31:18-19
  • Hosea 5:15
  • Matthew 5:10-12
  • Romans 5:3-5
  • I Corinthians 15:58
  • II Corinthians 4:17-18
  • Galatians 6:9-10
  • I Thessalonians 2:1-2
  • Hebrews 10:34
  • Hebrews 12:5, 11-14
  • James 1:2-4
  • I Peter 1:6-7
  • Revelation 2:10

Questions to Ponder

  1. Does failure once mean you will fail every time?
  2. Does failure at one thing mean you will fail at everything?
  3. Can there be a benefit to failing?
  4. Can you fail at something and actually succeed?