When I was applying for a college study abroad program in Tanzania, there were certain criteria for being part of the program. A “B” average or higher: check! An aptitude for learning to speak another language: check! The proven ability to fail: wait, what?!?
Though they didn’t say it, the people in charge of this program knew that there would be countless challenges, disappointments, and failures for any North American student studying in a university in Africa. It wasn’t that they wanted to lower my expectations, (let alone cause me to fail) but rather have me think about how I dealt with my own failures and then continue to study, travel, and communicate in light of these failures. In other words, they wanted to be sure that all the students in this program knew that there would be plenty of opportunities to learn from mistakes.
Paul writes of some spectacular failings by the people of God. While they may seem to us like simply punishments for sin, Paul suggests that they are also examples that we can learn from. He encourages us to take their example to heart.
Let us pray: Thank you, God, for not deserting us or abandoning us when we stumble and fall. Help us learn from our failures and from the mistakes of others. Amen.