This year, the Lord allowed us to get enough of a tax return to purchase a full-size couch. In fact, we found an excellent deal on a sectional. It is a three-seat couch with a full-length chaise lounge attached to the end. As I type this entry, Tippy is curled up at the far end of the couch, I am stretched out on the chaise, and Mitch is lying on the couch beside me with his head in my lap (a little tricky for typing, but hey!). If Jason were home, he could easily fit between Tippy and Mitch or even at my feet (not that he'd want to). The point is we can all sit together and still be comfortable. It's great, and I love it!
What I didn't love was the preparation that had to be made before we could bring the furniture home. The old furniture had to be dealt with. A few things had to be rearranged. And a lot of cleaning and organizing had to take place. Not my forte, but I knew it was the price I had to pay if I wanted the new furniture. So, I cleaned and organized.
During the process, I came across several things from previous business ventures that we had begun and failed to see through. Each of the businesses held great promise, or so we thought. And so we invested money and time only to find ourselves deeper in debt and more discouraged when our dreams crumbled before our eyes. As I stumbled across more and more material, my heart sickened. If only we hadn't spent all this money. . . If only these business ventures had been successful. . . Maybe if we had tried a little harder or a little longer. . . And on and on the thoughts wandered.
The next day, I was describing the process and feelings to my mother-in-law, and I made the statement, "Yeah, it was depressing stumbling across all these things that we thought were the Lord's will but turned out to be major failures instead."
Her response stunned me. "I understand. We've had our share of endeavors-turned-failures, but I firmly believe the Lord was in them." She went on to explain that she believes God used the experiences to prepare us for other things in life. For example, even though the various businesses Jason and I began flopped, I am still using many of the skills I learned through them in my writing business. Is it possible I never would have learned those skills if not for the businesses? As I listened to her explanation, I was amazed. Could God really use my failures for His glory? Furthermore, could my failures all be part of His master plan for my life?
Then I remembered the Sunday School lesson I had recently taught on Psalm 10. Verse 17 says, Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear. "Thou wilt prepare their heart." How does God prepare our hearts? Through trials and tests, through successes and failures, through sorrow and joy.
I believe my mother-in-law is right. Just because we fail at something doesn't mean God wasn't in it. It could be that God is using it for our betterment. It could be His will for us to acquire the skills to use for another job or ministry. It could be His will for us to suffer failure so that we will know the sweet taste of success when it comes. I don't know. God's ways are not our ways, and I know I can't possibly comprehend the mind of God. But I'd like to believe that He uses our failures to "prepare our hearts" for something better yet to come.