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Can God Use a Horrible Failure or Loss?

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How to Make the Best of a Horrible Failure

Do you feel like a horrible failure or have you recently experienced a terrible loss? You are not alone. Most of us have had this happen to us at one time or another.

After a horrible day, you go to bed and pray the next day will be better. Many times it is better the next day, but feels like life will never be the same again. The failure or loss is too big.  

In a recent post, I showed how God allows pain in our lives and uses it for good. The Fruit of Discipline: Is the Pain Worth It? To illustrate the point, I used a word picture.

I talked about my sister’s garden and her failing squash plant. It had squash borers (icky bugs) in it. She had to do surgery on the plant by cutting out the bugs so it would survive and produce fruit.

This is not much different from what God does with us. He allows us to go through surgery (times of correction) so we can produce fruit. It is painful, but there is a happy ending when it is all done.

But what happens when the plant becomes a nuisance due to overgrowth, or it dies due to weeds or parasites? How do you cope when there is not a happy ending? Is it all a waste or is there more to the story?

In this post, you will learn how weeds, pruning and composting parallels to real life.  I will show you that everything has a purpose. Nothing goes to waste, especially your horrible failure or loss.

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Can God Use a Horrible Failure pin with a plant on a ledge.What is Pruning?

Here is the definition of pruning: 

  1. to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim.
  2. to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable).

There are some plants that need pruning or trimming regularly. I have one like this; it is a Crepe Myrtle. I have to prune it weekly during the summer.

It grows so fast that it will start hanging over our pool and dropping blossoms in the water. It is a mess to clean up. The tree is no longer fulfilling its purpose. It has become a liability. A nuisance. 

Just like the tree, we need pruning too. We can get big and have beautiful things happening in our lives but lose focus. Perhaps even become a nuisance or a liability in the Kingdom of God

I know there are many people who don’t get pruned weekly. God allows their bad behavior to go on for years. One day it won’t be a pruning, it will be a scalping. Yikes!

My advice: take the weekly pruning. It is better than a drastic scalping that will leave a tree bald for months and be a horrible failure. I know first-hand.

Related: Estranged: 3 Things You Lose When Your Family Stops Talking 

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

 Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

Do You Have Weeds?

No one likes weeds. They are a nuisance. You don’t have to be a gardener to know how fast they pop up. I can never get complete control of them in my flower beds. They multiply overnight.

When I start pulling weeds in my yard, God lovingly reminds me about the weeds in my own life that need to go. Things like anger, fear, unforgiveness, etc. I am constantly battling this in my heart.

I have to keep pulling out the small failures before they take root and multiply into something big just like the weeds in my flowerbed.

In the past, I have let a few weeds take over my life. It seemed innocent at the time. I didn’t take care of my thoughts in a timely manner. Eventually, my thoughts took control, and it turned into action.

One day, it started choking the life out of me. Literally. I became sick. Unforgiveness took root and grew.

It was a horrible failure.

Related: Estranged: When Your Family Falls Apart 

Thankfully, God has used this situation for good. I have been able to help others who have a family rift or estrangement. (I have a book coming out about it called Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart.)

Now I take inventory a lot sooner. I don’t want the garden of my heart to get out of control. It is amazing how fast those weeds slip in when you are not looking. I would rather let God deal with me and pull a few weeds quickly so I don’t have a horrible failure later.

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Can God Use a Horrible Failure pin with a woman looking into a field.?

What is Composting?

Composting is “a natural process that turns organic material into a dark rich substance. It is the  ‘soul of healthy soil.’ Adding compost to your yard or garden will help your plants grow bigger and better.”

The best kind of organic material is dead things and poop. Isn’t it ironic this is what gives life?  Dead things and waste. It takes time for the compost to be useable though. It has to sit for three or four months to break down and rot.

What about the dead things in your life? Or something you think is a waste? Maybe it is a dream that died, a death in the family, a parenting failure or a tragedy. Whatever it is, God can use these horrible things for good.

It may be too raw right now, but with time, your experiences can help bring life to others. In order for this to happen, you have to be willing to be broken (sit in the compost pile for a while) so it can turn into fertilizer.

What you thought was a terrible failure or loss is actually fertilizer for something beautiful in the future. 

I think this verse sums it up best. It is a composting verse!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV).

Related: When You Feel Like You Have Failed as a Parent

What About Your Horrible Failure or Loss?

If you have had a horrible failure or loss, allow God to use it for good. Your experience may be in the form of pruning, weeds, or composting. Whatever it is, don’t let your failure go to waste.

Composte your trials.

Let God take your pain and use it to help others who are a few steps behind you. Your suffering will not be a waste when you do this. Ironically, it is the best way to help you heal from any lingering pain you may still have from your failure or loss.

I pray you have learned something about how nature reflects life. The Master Gardener does know what He is doing. You can trust him with your life.

Kari Jobe has a beautiful song called “The Garden.” It is a great example of how God has used a terrible situation (death in the family) for good. This is so powerful. Watch this!

Have you had a horrible failure or loss? How did you turn it into something good?

Book on Family Estrangement from a Christian Point of View

Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking to each other. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.

Scroll down or look to the side to sign up. You can also get it at your favorite bookstore.

Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Parenting and Family. This is a place for moms with preschool age kids or older to talk about their struggles with parenting, family life, education, or marriage. You will find biblically based advise from other moms who want to raise godly kids.

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Julie Plagens


  1. Yaa Attobrah on April 21, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you. This is very powerful. Lots of insights to ponder over. Bless you

  2. April on April 20, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    I can most definitely attest to when we help others it can help you continue to heal in your own brokenness. I loved the analogy that you have used here. It really puts this process of what we can do to help us both avoid and heal in failure and loss.

  3. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on January 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for this! Very powerful.

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 12:46 am

      So glad it was helpful. Thanks for reading.

  4. Colleen on January 3, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    What a beautiful song! I like all your analogies to a garden (despite having only a very small green thumb and hating gardening as a kid). My loss was of my job back in 2017 after months of trying to stay in the area and getting nothing. It took six months to find a new job, but holy cow — it’s so much better, the people are amazing, I’m doing stuff I love, and I feel valuable. And none of that would’ve happened if I had held on to my old location so fiercely. I also probably wouldn’t have started my blog either!

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 12:57 am

      That is a really neat story. I am so glad you let God compost a really hard situation and let Him work. It is sure hard to see any beauty when you are in the situation, but when you look back you can see how you grew.

  5. Ltnn on January 2, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    He often uses what we see as bad for good. Always in his time and rarely in ours!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      This is so true. We definitely don’t know how God is going to use a horrible failure for good. He has it all in His plan.

  6. DONNA MILLER on January 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    I love this! I needed to sit in the compost and be broken before I could be used to fertilize others too. I love how you put this post together. Very tender, creative, honest and deep all at the same time! Blessings to you in 2019! ❤

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Donna, thank you for this sweet message. I appreciate your honesty. It is so hard to be broken, but God does use it for good.

  7. Kristin B Cook on January 2, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I particularly love your composting analogy. So good! God allows things that are dead, gross, or bad in our lives so that glory will be brought to His name and good will be formed in our lives through it. He will shape us and make us beautiful through the very ugly things we have to deal with in our lives.

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      Kristin, this is so true. He can use our worst and turn it into something good if we will let Him. He gets the glory for every situation. I am so glad He can do something awesome with our messes.

  8. Diane@worthbeyondrubies on January 2, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Loved this post! I too can tend to fail to take inventory early on and my thoughts and my words can sometimes get away from me! Thank you for this encouragement!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      Diane, I am so glad this resonated with you. I think word pictures can say things that regular words can’t. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Amy @ Orison Orchards on January 2, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I love all of your gardening metaphors (especially the compost, lol)! Thank you for the reminder to see the good in our trials and our failures!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      Who would have thought compost could be used in such an amazing way. God can use the worst of us for something good.

  10. Gwen Thielges on January 2, 2019 at 8:59 am

    You’ve given us a great way to change our perspecitve when we are in the midst of a challenging situation. Thank you for your insight! God bless you!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      I am glad your perspective was changed. Maybe it will be a good reminder for your next trial.

  11. Deborah Hunter Kells on January 2, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Thank you for the inspiration – no matter how bad things have been or if the memory lingers on. Sometimes we do the best we know at the time. Ignorance is often “not bliss” and can make some huge mistakes. Good post and a healthy reminder!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      I think it is such a great reminder that nothing is wasted when God is involved. We are blessed to have a God who loves us and will do anything to redeem a loss or failure.

  12. Rosemarie on August 29, 2018 at 10:46 am

    This is a hope inspiring post for those of us who ask the question can God use someone like me. Beautiful metaphors with the gardening analogy. Thank you.

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      I am so glad you were touched by this post. Gardening word pictures are so rich with parallels to real life. It was fun to “dig” out the truths.

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