TREAT FAILURES as ‘STEPPING STONES’ to SUCCESS: "He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good." (Eccl. 11:4-6)
The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon (“The Preacher”), provides some valuable insights regarding the need for diligence in the life of every person. He gives the practical example of a farmer who is about to venture out into his field to work, either to sow seeds or reap his harvest. At that time if this farmer observes the nature, whether the wind (that may scatter the seeds) or, the clouds to usher in the rain (that may spoil the harvest), and decide not to risk a failure then it is certain that no productive work will be done. If the farmer is not willing to take some risks and be diligent in his work, there is no possibility of any future success!
History teaches us that the great inventor Thomas Edison spent more than $40,000 in nearly one thousand fruitless experiments before he finally devised the first incandescent lamp that could burn for more than forty hours. We would still be burning lamps in the night today had not this determined scientist persisted through his many failures before achieving his ultimate success. However, Edison had learned something from every failure, which was not only knowing what not to do, but also what to do in order to achieve his final goal. Truly, Edison had treated his failures as his stepping stones to success!
One of the secrets of many successful people is that they had to wade through many bouts of failure before climbing the pinnacle of success. They were willing to risk failure over and over again in order to find the winning combination of success. We are reminded in the above passage that we “do not know the works of God who makes everything” (v. 5). There is no ‘sure thing’ in this world except that the plans of God will eventually take place. Therefore, those who wait for certainty before they act may have to wait forever, which means that no work will eventually be accomplished. If we wait till all conditions are perfect, in the end we will accomplish nothing. It is rather better to sow and reap when we can as we trust God for the results!
So, the right approach to take is that since we don’t know everything, we should proceed with what knowledge we do have. The farmer may not understand the movements of the wind, and the doctor may not understand how the bones are formed in the womb of an expectant mother. This lack of perfect understanding should not prevent either one of them to do their mandated tasks. In the similar manner, we too should sow in the morning of life and not slack off in the evening since we are called to an unremitting faithful service in God’s vineyard. Let us not hold back from getting involved in matters that need to be accomplished. Let the success or failure of a task rest in the hand of God, but we should be diligent in spite of obstacles. Let us not use uncertainty as an excuse for laziness!
Many times the weather is rarely perfect for what the farmer wants to do, but he does it anyway. In the similar manner, let’s get started on our tasks early knowing that night is coming “when no one can work” (John 9:4). The season of failure is sometimes the best time for sowing the seeds of success, and failure is the condiment that at times gives success its flavor. Adversity is the building blocks for our success so we should learn from them and move forward in the journey of life. Let us always have confidence and grow with each experience whether good or bad!