Dealing with failure is hard. We want our story to be dominated by success not failure.
When we invest time, money, love, emotions, or other resources, we expect positive results.
Success is a great feeling, but in life, no one wins all of the time which is a good thing.
Dealing with failure is part of this wonderful, sorrowful, exciting, disappointing journey because it draws us closer to Jesus. Learning to cope with failure through our relationship with God helps us grow spiritually and removes failures power over our spirit.
Failure arrives in many forms. When we aren’t thriving, we believe we are failing.
Living away from family and friends for several years was difficult.
I prayed this dry season would become fruitful and that my husband would get a job closer to our family.
In the valley of failure, we see God in His glory embracing us with His presence. We are bathed in humility and are reminded why we are here and the preciousness of His presence in the highs and in the lows.
If you are dealing with a failure (or two), I hope this article will bring you peace and help you cling to God for resolution and comfort.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
Dealing with Failure
I have experienced many failures as do most of us, or it’s safe to say, all of us.
My children and husband also deal with failure. It is difficult to watch loved ones fail especially when we are unable to change the outcome.
The email from my son’s school arrived with the dreaded news. It was real and unchangeable; summer school was now part of my teenager’s story. Not because my child didn’t understand the subject but because he did not apply himself and complete the work. He was devastated but not surprised.
We were not prepared for this failure to be part of his story.
Despite prayer and lots of support, dealing with failure became a reality we walked through with him.
“a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him…Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Luke 22:47-48 NLT
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 GNT
Let’s take a look at how characters in the Bible learned to deal with failure.
What Does the Bible Say About Dealing with Failure
What does the Bible say about dealing with failure? a lot. The Bible is filled with stories of success, miracles, and devastating failures.
Here are three biblical characters who learned dealing with failure was an important part of their faith journey.
Failure in the Bible
Moses. Job and Peter had to deal with failure. Here are the failures they faced and how they moved on and trusted God.
Moses Learned the Importance of Dealing with Failure
Moses is considered the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. He wrote 5 books of the Bible and his accomplishments are endless but Moses had to deal with failure and its dire consequences.
In Numbers 20 the Lord gives Moses clear instructions to provide water for the grumbling Israelites,
“You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water.”
Moses in his frustration with the people struck the rock twice and produced water. But he failed to do what God directed and was reprimanded for his choice.
“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” Numbers 20:12 NLT
Moses’ failure to follow God’s instructions demonstrated he was angry and He let his emotions take over.
For whatever reason he struck that rock, He was not allowed to enter the promised land with the rest of the surviving Israelites.
This must have been incredibly disappointing for Moses who had wandered for 40 years in the desert.
But Moses continued with his purpose of leading the Israelites to the promised land and trusted God to guide Joshua as their new leader.
Sometimes dealing with failure is especially frustrating after a mistake. But like Moses, we can trust God to use our failures for His good.
Job Learned the Importance of Dealing with Failure
Job was a devout follower of God and righteous but he had to cope with failure in every aspect of his life.
“There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”
Job 1:1 NLT
Job did not always respond faithfully during his intense period of loss and trial. I am not sure I could have either.
But Job did eventually acknowledge that God was present and in control.
In Job 42, he confesses to God,
“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you…I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes…I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
Sometimes we experience failures that are completely out of our control. But trusting God helps us endure trials and grow spiritually while dealing with failure.
Peter Learned the Importance of Dealing with Failure
Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples and was fortunate to walk with, observe, and love the son of God but Peter had to deal with failure too.
Like you and me, Peter’s humanity got in the way of his faithful living.
“But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22:60-62 ESV
Peter made a huge mistake and suffered devastating consequences.
But Peter’s dealing with failure transformed his life. He wrote two epistles in the Bible and became one of the most important figures in the early church. He is an ambassador of the love God has for His church.
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles”
Acts 10:44-45 NIV
5 Ways for Dealing with Failure
Here are five ways I have learned to deal with failure. Although failing is still hard, these steps will help you move past it.
#1 Acknowledge the failure and pray about how to deal with it.
Call out to God and let Him know you are disappointed and lost. You can release your hopes and dreams to Him. You can grieve the loss while acknowledging if you played a part in the outcome.
Sometimes things are out of our control but other failures, like Peter’s in the Bible, are caused by bad decisions.
A bad decision does not eliminate the pain of failure but acknowledging and assessing our responsibility is a big step in dealing with failure and moving on.
#2 Release the expectation and lost dream.
Whether your dream is a different job or a new or improved relationship, releasing expectations of the outcome you hoped for is important.
Your dream may not be lost forever, but if it is not happening, releasing your hopes for now is freeing.
The more we invest in a goal or growing a friendship the harder it is to acknowledge the failure and grieve the loss.
#3 Look for ways to change and grow on the other side of failure.
#4 Ask God to guide you toward the next steps.
A big part of dealing with failure is evaluating what good things resulted from the failure. This is hard to do while coping with failure, but at some point, God will guide you out of the hole failure leads you into.
#5 Embrace your new reality and get help to move forward.
So that job didn’t work out, your child failed in school or your friend decided to ghost you what next? Accepting our situation and seeking help from a good friend, pastor, or counselor will help us move forward.
If you are in a season of dealing with failure, I hope this article has brought you hope. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Mary Rooney Armand
Mary is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Her writing is featured on multiple Christian websites. She is the author of, “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I Am in Christ” and “Life Changing Stories“—a collaboration with 34 authors available on Amazon.