Whenever we step out in faith, we take a risk. Whenever we dare to hope in the face of hopelessness or dream the impossible dream, whenever we are willing to try what the world might dismiss as foolish, we are not doing any of these things in absolute assurance that our attempts will succeed. Even risks taken in the power of God are still risks!
God is not an on-demand enabler who makes our every endeavor succeed. Part of Christian faith, part of being willi…ng to dream, means being willing to fail. It means being willing to take risks for God, in the knowledge that God is in control and we are not.
This is easy to say on paper, but in practice it can be a hard and painful lesson to learn. And once we have been burned from one risk, it can be incredibly difficult to take another. Fear of failure can stop us in our tracks. But if we’re not taking risks, then we are not living a life of faith, and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Playing safe is no answer to the fear of failure; it will never satisfy.
In the parable of the talents, which we find in Matthew 25, the master rewarded the servants who were willing to risk failure to grow what they had been given. The one who played it safe, burying his treasure in the ground because he saw the master as a hard man—a ruthless bully who didn’t tolerate failure—received the master’s wrath. Those who trusted in the goodness of the master were rewarded.
To those who have taken a risk in faith and found their hopes come crashing back to earth, to those who dared to dream that God might do a new thing but have been left crushed and disappointed, Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Well done for dreaming, for being willing to see things as they might yet be rather than as they are. Well done for stepping out in faith despite your fear and your hesitancy. Well done for daring to think that hope might not be lost.
Our failures are not failures in the eyes of God. When we step out in faith, we always triumph, whether or not we are successful on our terms. Who knows how Jesus might use our failures?