Finding Reason: Designed to Fail in Order to Overall Succeed


Naturally aspirated automotive engines typically utilize a mechanical thermostat to regulate the temperature. Since lots of fuel explosions and friction occur in the operation of such motors, heat increases. Since heat breaks down lubricants and weakens parts, keeping the engines from getting too hot are key in both, short-term and long-term operation. So, for years the standard has been and continues to be using this mechanical thermostat. 

Stay with me. I know some readers could care less to understand this sort of thing. There is a point, and it might help you in your daily life. 

The mechanical thermostat in normal automotive engines operates in a very simple way. It has a spring which keeps the valve closed, preventing the flow of coolant, but that spring is designed to fail at and above a specific temperature. In other words, the metal used in the spring which keeps the valve closed will begin to “soften” or “relax” when the temperature rises to a certain temperature. When the spring “softens,” it fails to keep the valve closed, so then the cooler coolant (which has been cooled in the radiator by natural airflow of the car in motion, and a fan or two) can move to cool the motor. The valve closes back as the temperature drops with the cooler coolant. The warmer coolant waits in the radiator, cooling, until that spring fails again due to the rise in temperature of the coolant in the motor. The cycle keeps repeating as the engine runs. 

Yes, a pump is constantly adding pressure, trying to move the coolant, but as long as the spring keeps its strength, no coolant cycles through. It’s only when the spring is weakened by reaching a particularly high temperature, then it fails. It’s designed to fail, so that cooler coolant can cycle through, and cool the motor. 

That’s the way some things are supposed to work. This particular automotive part is crucial in the operation of a typical engine. It is designed to fail so the vehicles we rely upon do not. 

Life is similar. Sometimes things are not thought out and because of that, they are “designed to fail.” When they do, we usually gain a better understanding of what is going on. Hopefully, we learn from these mistakes, problems, or struggles, and do better the next time(s). 

However, like in the automobile engine thermostat, some things are purposely designed to fail so that the overall result is success. 

Interestingly enough, God designed us to fail without Jesus. The most basic, fundamental, and foundational truth of Christianity is that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ (see John 3:16; 14:6; etc.) God gave us life guidelines through the Old Testament law, but knew we could never be good enough or do good enough on our own. We were “designed to fail,” so that we would realize we need a Savior (see Romans 3 and Galatians 3.)

Once we realize when it comes to life we can’t do it on our own, we humble ourselves and seek God’s help. He grants us mercy and forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus, His son. 

We are designed to fail, trying on our own, but ultimately designed to succeed if we accept the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The automobile engine thermostat has a spring that is designed to fail so that a rush of cooler liquid will rush through and cool the motor before damage is done. Similarly, as we struggle through life it’s designed so that we learn we cannot do this on our own – that we need help. We are designed to fail so that as we do and as we realize we need help – in Jesus – He comes through, rushing like water, calming, comforting, helping, guiding, etc. 

It’s part of the grand plan. As we feel lost, hopeless, defeated, and pushed to the point of where we feel like we cannot handle any more, if we relax like the softened spring in an automotive motor and let Jesus in, we can be saved from horrible damage. Our lives can be regulated and function as we were designed overall.  

If you feel like it’s just too much, if you feel like the pressure is about to cause irreversible damage, it’s okay to surrender to Christ, and let Him in. You were designed for this. You are supposed to know you need a Savior; that you cannot do this by yourself. If you choose to live for Him, He will take care of you as your Savior. 

Jesus said, come to me, you who are worn down and have too much emotional weight on you, and I’ll help you relax (paraphrase of Matthew 11:28). He’ll do more than that. With the Lord Jesus over your life, you’ll find hope, purpose, fulfillment, and success! 

All by yourself, you were designed to fail, but this was to steer you to the Savior. You are not alone. Ultimately, that means overall you were designed to succeed, if you decide to accept His guidance and help. If that interests you, contact a Christian friend. If you don’t have one, contact a local Christian church. They can help your spiritual and emotional engine operate as it’s designed, to ultimately succeed!


Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears online weekly. He can be reached by email at


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