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What does the Bible say about failure?

We are all going to fail at some point in our lives, whether we bomb a test, let our parents down, or do something that injures us bodily or harms our relationships. Sin finds its way in, and sometimes we are so distracted or discouraged that we allow sinful tendencies to take over, which can lead us down a very dark trail. But hear this, friend, you are not a "failure" at being a human being. You are not a "failure" as a Christian. Your life IS worth living and, yes, YOU ARE VALUABLE.

The only way a person can be a "failure" is if they let the memories of failed experiences take over their mind, and they REFUSE to rise from the ashes and try again.

If you are paralyzed by the fear of failure, then please take a moment to evaluate your heart. Do you truly trust in God's promises (Proverbs 3:5)? Do you know that God will always give you another chance (2 Peter 3:9)? Do you accept that His forgiveness will never run out (1 John 1:9)? Are you assured that your salvation is secure—no matter how much you keep slipping up (John 6:37; John 10:27-29)?

Even after accepting Christ, we will still fail once in a while, and that is totally OK. The truth is that God often allows us to fail for a variety of reasons. Job 14:1 says, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Trouble is inevitable, but as it turns out, one of the best ways to learn is to learn from our mistakes. Failure is nothing to fear, but something to gain wisdom from.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." —James 1:2-4

Luke 9:1-5 describes how Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel and perform miracles. He knew they would fail at reaching some people, so He equipped them with a plan on how to handle failure: "If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." By "shake the dust off your feet," Jesus meant that they should press on, keep going, and not get discouraged by their rejection.

How can I stop being afraid of failure?

When you feel failure coming, your first reaction may be to run and hide or give up and not even try. Don't worry; it happens to the best of us! When it comes to sin, while we may be fully capable of resisting it, we will still sometimes fail. Even if you have complete love, faith, and devotion to God, you can fall short. But God is not shocked when we mess up. Why do you think He sent Jesus to die for us? Because He loves us immensely, and He KNEW we would be in a constant struggle with sin all our lives (John 3:16; Romans 7:15-20).

I highly encourage you to take a moment now to read Romans 8. (Yes, the whole chapter!) Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you and your instruction manual for life. Romans 8 reminds us that we are no longer condemned, for we are in Christ (Romans 8:1). No matter how many dumb mistakes we make, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (While you're in Romans, flip back a chapter and read Romans 7:15-20, in which the Apostle Paul will describe something that is probably VERY familiar to you.)

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." —1 Peter 4:12-13

What should I do when I fail?

Get back up again. Shake the dust off your feet. Start over. Set your mind on doing right. Remember that you are not alone in your struggle. Keep your eyes on our Savior, following and obeying Him. Lay aside your fears because God is with you (Proverbs 29:25; Philippians 4:6). James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." God has great plans for you and your life, but sometimes that plan includes failures, experiences that will grow and strengthen your faith. Even your so-called failures can be turned right around into successes by the One who has control over all things (Philippians 4:11-13; Ephesians 3:20).

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." —Romans 5:3-5

TL;DR

We are all going to fail at some point in our lives, but that is simply the human struggle. The truth is that God often allows us to fail because it turns out that one of the best way to learn is to learn from our mistakes. Failure is nothing to fear, but something to gain wisdom from (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5). God loves us and knows we will fight sin all our lives (John 3:16; Romans 7:15-20). When you fail, get back up again. Shake the dust off your feet. Start over. Set your mind on doing right. Never fear, God can turn the worst failure right around into a success story (Philippians 4:11-13; Ephesians 3:20).

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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