No Such Thing as Failure


A summer sermon and reflection series following the Psalms and linked verses from the Revised Common Lectionary.

Guest writer: Mimi Otani @


Genesis 25:19-34


Jacob, whose birth is depicted in this passage, is shown great favor by God. He becomes the father of the nation Israel, blessed with many descendants.

One of my Jewish colleagues found this troubling, asking, “Why did God decide to favor Jacob? Jacob’s way of obtaining Esau’s birthright for himself is very underhanded.” It’s a fair question. Unlike Noah, who found favor in God’s eyes through his obedience, Jacob does not seem like a person of virtue. In fact, later on Jacob uses deceptions to expand his wealth and power.

I don’t know why God chose to bless Jacob, but one thing is certain; God’s appointment of Jacob as Israel is NOT earned through Jacob’s personality or righteousness.

God has given us a lot of leeway to exercise our will: to make choices, good or bad. Free will, however, does not mean that we completely control our destiny, nor that we are left at the mercy of someone who is stronger-willed or more powerful than we are. Similarly, if we don’t achieve something, it is not necessarily due to our lack of determination or training. God in his mercy does not leave us to our own devices, nor bless us based on our character or achievements. Through everything we choose to do or not do — or even the things we are not able to choose, but are chosen for us — God is sovereign and will carry out his plans.

God sent his Son Jesus to show us the way and gently teach us his sovereignty. If we believe in God’s mercy through His Son, then we do not have to rely on our own strength, or be afraid of those who are more powerful than we are. God puts us to the test at times, but he also gives us a way out. Remember, his Son came to save the world, not to condemn it (John 3:17). Failure is not in God’s vocabulary.


Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law – Psalm 119:109.

Meditate on this verse. Declare your trust in God and his ability to lead you through his Word.

Is there any area of your life where you are trying to take control instead of letting God have his way? Ask God to remind you of his sovereignty and allow you to rest in his mercy.


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