On April 15, 2013, Roseann Sdoia watched the Red Sox play at Fenway Park and then went to Boylston Street to watch the Boston Marathon. Two bombs exploded. She was just steps from the second blast and lost her right leg. Fireman Mike Materia comforted her on the ride to Massachusetts General Hospital in a police vehicle. “He’s seen me on my worst day,” she says.
Now they’re engaged to be married.
Air National Guard Sgt. Matthew Noll returned last Monday from a seven-month deployment overseas. Here’s what made his return so emotional: he was reunited with his family at the Boston Celtics game that night. The video brought tears to my eyes.
We can all use good news in the news.
CNN is reporting this morning that two corrections department workers are being held hostage by inmates at a Delaware prison. Violence erupted last night at UC Berkeley hours before a political commentator was scheduled to speak. According to today’s Wall Street Journal, the White House has put Iran “on notice” after its missile launch.
What can we learn from the challenges of our day? Here’s an important life principle: failure is necessary to success.
This headline in Quartz caught my eye: “The experience CEOs want to see in every new hire.” I expected to read about drive, giftedness, and creativity. Instead, I learned about the value of failure. One CEO says, “I ask the question: tell me about when you failed.” Another notes that failure “makes you an executive of some substance.” Richard Branson: “It is only through failure that we learn.”
The best way to deal with problems is to trust them to God’s redemptive purpose. The wicked anti-Semite Haman plotted a holocaust in Persia that became the holy day of Purim (Esther 9). After rising from an Egyptian prison to Pharaoh’s palace, Joseph could say to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Paul’s imprisonment led to preaching before kings (Acts 26).
In each case, good did not just redeem evil—it required it. Without the test, there could have been no triumph. A mountain climber needs a mountain from which he could fall; a swimmer needs a lake in which she could drown; a sailor needs an ocean in which he could sink.
God uses sin to show us our need of grace. He uses pain to show us our need of a Great Physician.
God uses sin to show us our need of grace. He uses pain to show us our need of a Great Physician. Oswald Chambers: “The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreaks, disillusionments, tribulation, for one reason only, because these things kept him in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.”
Where have you fallen? Would you ask God to redeem your failure by drawing you to his transforming grace?
Rhonda Mawhood Lee is an Episcopal minister and very gifted writer. Her latest column is titled, “How I learned to love and raise the child from my husband’s affair.” The daughter she describes has been an instrument of healing for Rev. Lee’s marriage and a great blessing to her life.
A lesson she learned in suffering she now expresses in joy: “Love is the most powerful thing there is.” If you’ll trust your failure to God’s grace, you’ll agree.
NOTE: I encourage you as the Lenten season approaches to consider encountering God through one of my devotionals. You can order my latest book and download previous Lenten guides here.
ALSO: I invite you to join the Dallas Baptist University Institute for Global Engagement and the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture for the Leadership Lecture Series featuring Matthew Dowd. Mr. Dowd is a political analyst for ABC News. He will reflect on the 2016 presidential election as well as the current state of American politics. I will then lead a time of discussion with him.
We will meet on Monday, February 6, at 7 PM in Pilgrim Chapel on the DBU campus. Tickets are $5.00 per person. For more information or to register for this event, please visit www.dbu.edu/ige.