Monday, 16 November 2015

Overcoming Failure by Lynda Alsford

I preached at my church two Sundays ago. I was given the subject Overcoming Failure to preach on from John chapter 21. I found it both challenging and encouraging to write. I was challenged by thinking back over past failures but ultimately it encouraged me. I realised how I had overcome failure in some areas of my life and that gave me confidence for present areas of failure or possible failure. 

Famous failures
You may have seen online videos of famous, successful people who have experienced failure. I found this one inspirational. But so you don’t have to watch the whole thing if  you don't want to here are a couple of examples to get you thinking. 

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a news anchor because she "wasn't fit for television".

Thomas Edison's teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything. He was fired from 2 jobs for being unproductive. It is said he went on to try 1000 times before succeeding at inventing the incandescent light bulb. His assistant asked why he didn't give up, having failed so many times. He said he hadn't failed 1000 times but had learned 1000 things that won't work. 

Refuse to give up
I failed many, many times in numerous ways in my search to be free from binge eating. I tried so many different diets, different prayers, different ministries. I read so many books. I was dejected, disappointed, sad and angry. I felt like giving up – often.

But one thing kept me going - what I knew about Jesus in the Scriptures. I knew the Jesus I had read about in Scripture, the Jesus who died and rose again for my sin, could heal me. I wouldn't take no for an answer. Not because I thought I could do it but because I knew Jesus could. My dad used to tell me sometimes (when I was being particularly stubborn) that I was bloody-minded (I am sure he was right!). But this trait stood me in good stead in dealing with my binge eating. Bloody-minded means "deliberately uncooperative". I was being 'deliberately uncooperative' with failure. I refused to take no for an answer.

Learning through failure
Each time I failed I picked myself up and learned something about what had gone wrong. With each binge I learned more about why I overate. The more I knew why, the more I could work towards the answer. If I had given up I would not now be free from my destructive eating habits and I most definitely would not be nearly 4 stone lighter than I was 4 years ago. 

When we fail, or make a mistake, we can use it to learn something and then move on in the power of God stronger than we were before. Take each failure to the Lord and he will use it to move you forward.

The verses on the two pictures, Philippians 4:13 and Ephesians 1:19-20 are ones I constantly repeat to myself when I fail and need to encourage myself. I repeat them again and again. 

We have Jesus on our side and we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We have the same power within us that rose Jesus from the dead so when faced with our failures we can overcome – in the words of The Great British Bake Off's Nadyia Hussain “I can and I will”.

Lynda Alsford is a sea loving, cat loving GP receptionist and writes in her spare time. She has written two books. He Never Let Go describes her journey through a major crisis of faith whilst working as an evangelist at a lively Church in Chiswick, West London. Being Known describes how God set her free from food addiction. Both books are available in paperback and on kindle on and She writes a newsletter, Seeking the Healer, in which she shares the spiritual insights she has gained on her journey. Sign up for this at her website, Lynda blogs at


  1. Such an inspiring post, Lynda. I see your tenacity to press on in the face of failure has held you in good stead! These words are so helpful to remember in our own battles: "Each time I failed I picked myself up and learned something about what had gone wrong." Yes, that's the key thing, isn't it? To not allow setbacks to derail us from our God-given purpose and to use them instead as a springboard of faith for a better outcome. We learn far more from our struggles than we do from those (rare) times when all goes well. Thank you for sharing so honestly and blessing us in the process.

  2. Glad it was inspiring. All praise to God for giving me the strength to keep on going