From Defeat to Victory: Overcoming Past Failures

Yesterday in church the preacher spoke on Psalm 3, composed by David as he fled from his rebellious son Absalom. He rightly emphasized that David was dealing with the consequences of his past sin, including adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite (Psalm 3, superscript; 2 Samuel 12; 15:13-17.) Afterwards, I was discussing the sermon with a young man, to whom I said, “It only gets worse as you grow older. Your sins are more serious and they affect more people.” “How, then,” he asked, “do you handle the consequences of your faults?” Someone else came up as I was about to reply, but I have pondered his question since, and have come up with a few suggestions for overcoming past failures and bringing victory out of defeat: - Acknowledge your grief. Pretending not to care, or trying to hide or forget, won’t work. The wound will only fester. Thus, David cried out in pain to God in many psalms. See also Psalm 119:28: “My soul melts from heaviness [grief].” - Admit your guilt. When Nathan exposed David’s crimes, he said, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51:4). - Ask for God’s forgiveness. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness” (Psalm 51:1). - Accept God’s pardon. “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5}. - Acquiesce in God’s discipline. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6). - Affirm God’s sovereignty. “All things work together for those who love God” (Romans 8:2). In some way unfathomable to us, He allows us to sin – though He abhors the wickedness of it – and can bring good out of even the most heinous crime, as He wrought our salvation from the unjust crucifixion of Christ. We make foolish choices, but God makes no mistakes! - Advance! Forget what lies behind; press on towards “the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). “Strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12-13). Relying on God’s grace alone, ask for Him to supply the Holy Spirit to work miracles in your broken life (Galatians 3:5).