Think about the failures you’ve experienced during your lifetime. When I consider my own, I’m always amazed by the important lessons I’ve learned thanks to my most spectacular failures.
Thinking about the horrible events that occurred in Santa Barbara CA over the weekend, I thought briefly about the perpetrator’s life (laid out in his personal manifesto running over 107,000 words). I couldn’t read the entire thing; it’s far too self-indulgent and narcissistic. This young man, who seemed to believe life should be “fair” and who tells about his love for luxury and opulence, will become a footnote in history. Authors and experts may devote volumes trying to understand his damage and why he acted as he did.
But this I know: his journal clearly shows he was consumed by a huge void of loneliness. He sought to blame someone, apparently anyone other than himself. I’m reminded of the biblical Cain who, having murdered his brother Abel, is given specific judgment by God (read the narrative in Genesis 4.) Cain hears God’s judgment and cries, “My punishment is too great to bear!”
Failure such as Cain’s may indeed carry bitter and unbearable punishment. But this isn’t the end of Cain’s story. The Genesis account tells us Cain had sons, the first of those offspring being Enoch. This is itself a reiteration of Hope … the bearing of children beautifully underscores: Life Goes On!
Genesis relates that after Enoch had lived 365 years, “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more because God took him away.” In other words, Cain’s punishment manifests hope and deliverance. Through Cain’s son Enoch, we glimpse the promise of sin and death being − once and for all time − defeated. Enoch was no more because God took him away.
The unfortunate failure of this young murderer from Santa Barbara brings no hope and no deliverance for him (unless one believes his escape from the discontent and misery of this human existence is a positive thing). His life and death − his spectacular failure, if you will − may offer a cautionary tale for those who knew him. But what a waste. More than that, what a tragedy for those whom he randomly killed and for their grieving families.
Failure is always an option. What we learn from our failures, from the public shame and disrepute that we suffer, has the potential to bring us great good and redemption. Bill Whittle offers this reminder in his video below.