“Sometimes tears are the glasses we need to see God.” -Pope Francis
I’ve been thinking about hope in suffering a lot lately, and I’ve also been listening to a lot of worship songs. As I listened, one theme continually came up – God’s inability to fail. Many of the songs described in profound ways the truths of God’s unfailing love and His unfailing mercy, and that He Himself has never failed nor will ever fail.
When I first heard that phrase, “You’ve never failed,” I was encouraged. It felt like a good thing to sing to Him. Then as I thought about it further I became a little confused. What did this statement to God even mean? It sounded pretty great, and made for uplifting lyrics. But it seemed trite and somehow lacking. As I thought it over, this theme of His lack of failure was challenging to me. To be completely honest, from my sin-filled point of view, it really can seem like He has failed.
He has allowed things to happen that would qualify as failures in my mind, given His sovereign omnipotence. Every day at my anti-trafficking summer job I meet and hear stories about people going through horrific abuse and terrible tragedies. I really can’t find even one remotely positive story on the evening news. I have a few friends who are dealing with such painful things; things that I cannot even imagine going through. And I’ve been really seeking the Lord regarding my future for so long, have heard no answer from Him, and consequently feel confused and lost as the point of decision-making draws closer.
I know God’s ways are immeasurably higher than mine. I know what so often seems like pointless pain to us can be transformed by His grace. I know that judging His actions or lack thereof and calling them as I see them is ridiculous — He knows what He’s doing. But I don’t think that this theme of God’s ‘unfailure’ could ever possibly be based on external circumstances. When we sing about how God has never and will never fail, we can’t be referring to what He allows to be brought about in our lives, whether blessings or trials. That would mean we’re basing our praise to Him on our own circumstances and opinions about them, which are almost always clouded by sin and would be necessarily always-changing. I think those phrases, while seeming to state that He isn’t a failure because of some action He has or hasn’t taken towards us, are really referring to a deep underlying truth about His nature. Maybe when we sing to Him, “You will never fail,” we’re expressing in a limited, imperfect way something about who He is for us as God. Not about what He does for us as God.
Maybe we’re just trying to glorify God for who He is. God just is. He is He who was and is to come. He is infinite Subsistent Being itself. He is unconditional Love, infallible Truth, and perfect Beauty. He is the eternal and constant Sustainer of all physical reality. He is all-sufficient and immutable. He is good — Goodness itself. He has not ever and will not ever “fail,” because He is unchanging perfection. He cannot fail; otherwise He wouldn’t be God. And I think that that is a truth worth internalizing, treasuring, and singing to Him in praise.
When I feel like I’m drowning in sorrow about circumstances around me, I can trust this truth that God won’t fail being who He is – for me, for everyone, forever. That is honestly something that has given me a little hope in the midst of suffering. I pray that it can give you some hope, too.Tags » failure, God, grace, hope, immutability, jesus, love, suffering