Were there failures in the Bible? Yup! Throughout the Bible, people failed and today we’re going to look at what the Bible says about failure through 7 women’s stories. You’ll likely relate to more than one of these women’s failures but before you read on, ask God what He wants you to learn from these women. I pray you recognize how diverse failure is as you read these Bible verses about failure.
These women in the Bible who experienced failure, are there because God wanted us prepared for failures. He’s given us His Word so we can learn how to handle all aspects of life, failure included.
If you’re a “bullet points” kinda gal click here. It’ll jump you to a summary of the post with links to take you to the full text (if you decide to read it).
I pray these stories produce a fertile heart that God grows beautiful life flowers in.
David Murray says about failure: “aim high, but recognize that no one escapes failure and disappointment. So, we might as well plan on it and prepare for it with a view to profiting from it.”
If you’re ready to be victorious over feeling like a failure, open your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to show you God’s truth.
We’re starting in Genesis 3.
Table of Contents
Women in the Bible Who Failed
Eve - Failing Doesn’t Equal Failure
Eve was the first woman to experience failure. She gave in, ate the fruit, convinced her husband to follow suit, and set the stage for humanity’s struggle with failure. But Eve’s struggle with failure didn’t end there.
She was also a mother who dealt with some really tough kid stuff. One of her sons murdered his brother and then walked away from God and his family. Talk about something that could make any mom feel like a failure.
But we see nothing in Scripture about Eve being a failure and when we read her story in the Bible we don’t think, “Wow, that woman was a failure.”
Eve’s story shows us that failure happens when we disobey God and that disobedience comes with consequences.
Consequences that often affect more than just us.
While Eve didn’t fail God, she certainly might have felt like she did.
- Have you ever felt like something you did failed God?
- If so, what was it?
- If your best friend had done the same thing what do you think God would want her to know? Would He consider her a failure or want her to learn from her mistake?
I’m sure you know why I asked this – it’s because we often have different expectations for other people than we do for ourselves.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.
Read Genesis 3:1-7 and Genesis 4:1-16 and write down what you learn from Eve’s failures.
Failures are going to happen, but God’s a God of second chances who’ll use our failures to shape us into His image.
God blessed Eve with a third son after she’d lost her first two and she responded with gratitude.
- Would you pray and ask God to help you thank Him for the things you’ve failed at and the things that’ve made you feel like a failure?
For the Bible verses about Eve’s failures go to Genesis 3:1-6, Genesis 4:1-16, and Genesis 4:25
Sarah - You’re Not a Failure Because You...
Sarah was barren until she was 90 and because of this culture said she’d failed her husband and as a woman.
Her uterus failed her because God had planned something awesome for this “failed uterus.”
But that wasn’t the only failure Sarah dealt with.
She decided she’d waited long enough for God to keep His promise of children and took things into her own hands. The result?
It blew up in her face (you can read about it here) and led to even more failures. Talk about a decision that failed miserably.
Did it make Sarah a failure or do we think of Sarah as a failure?
She’s the mother of God’s chosen people and we often read her story for encouragement.
For more on this Bible character who failed read Genesis 12-18.
- Do you feel like a failure because of something your body can’t do?
- If so, how do you think God wants you to think of yourself?
Be honest and then spend some time in prayer asking God to replace your feelings of failure with how He sees you.
If you haven’t read about Sarah’s 5 mistakes do that and spend some time on those Bible study questions.
Rebekah - Your Children Don’t Make You a Failure
Rebekahs yet another woman who dealt with the failure of not being able to have children. It’s the story of another seemingly failed uterus but not the story of a woman who was a failure. This isn’t all though…
When Rebekah finally had children her oldest son did something that, “made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.” Like Sarah, Rebekah also took things into her hands so her favorite son would receive the family blessing.
Rebekah lost both of her sons.
Can you imagine the potential sense of failure she would have felt? A son who went against God’s commands and then losing both kids because of something she did – that’s stuff that would make any woman feel like a failure.
There are a lot of failures in the Bible but like Sarah and Eve, Rebekah’s actions didn’t make her a failure.
The Bible verses about Rebekah’s failures are Genesis 25:21-28 and Genesis 27:1-46.
- Have things your children did caused you to feel like a failure?
As hard as it is to accept, you aren’t responsible for other people’s actions, not even if they’re your kids. You train them and set an example for them to follow but ultimately they’ve got to decide for themselves.
When your kids wander outside God’s will, cling to Proverbs 22:5 and don’t be afraid to remind God of what His Word says.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Rachel - Competition Leads to Failure
Rachel waited 7 years to marry Jacob and what happened? Her father tricked them by having Jacob marry her older sister instead. Can you imagine the thoughts that may have gone through her head?
Satan loves to attack people with blame, fault, and worthless thoughts and this could have been a situation he’d use.
Rachel finally did did marry Jacob, but it ended up being a competition between these two sisters and to make matters worse…
Rachel was barren.
All of this could have left Rachel depressed or with low self-esteem, but the Bible doesn’t give us a window into her heart and mind. Rachel had a tough life but Rachel wasn’t a failure.
God heard Rachels cry and she gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin and commentaries now refer to her as the “great mother of Israel.” (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18)
Why did God bless us with a window into Rachel’s struggles with failure?
So we’d recognize we’re not alone, and fully place our hope in God’s perfect plan for our lives.
As women of God, we’re to “count others as more significant than ourselves” and “run the race” for the great “imperishable prize” of eternal life. (Philippians 2:3, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
- Who or what do you find yourself competing, or comparing yourself, with?
- How does getting overlooked make you feel?
Write your answers down and be honest with yourself. Then ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God would answer those questions for you.
Ex: I’m comparing my work to influencers who’ve been doing this for years vs. God says “whatever I do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17
This means I’m not supposed to compare my progress or success to anyone. But to the best of my God-given ability, I’m supposed to do everything as God’s representative and to bring Him glory.
Miriam - Failure is only Feedback
Miriam was Moses’ sister and was with him while he was leading Israel out of captivity. But Miriam had a jealousy issue and it caused her to mess-up big.
She got mouthy and spouted off about Moses hearing from God, and God called her out.
He showed up in a pillar of cloud, put Miriam in her place, and gave her leprosy. Ummm I’d end up feeling like a major failure after something like this.
Miriam had to sit, all alone and leprous, for seven days before God healed her. But Miriam didn’t let this failure send her into a spiral of despair.
Instead, she rose up and led the Israelite women in songs of praise to God.
You can read what the Bible says about Miriam’s failure in Numbers 12:1-16, Exodus 15:20-21, and this blog post here.
- List your most recent failures and then…
- think about why you consider things to be failures
- what they can teach you (feedback), and
- what you could do differently going forward.
Pray about these things while you’re answering and listen for the Holy Spirit’s still small voice.
Tamar - People Can’t Make You a Failure
After Tamar’s husband died, tradition said the oldest brother-in-law was supposed to marry her to carry on her husband’s family line. This was how family names and inheritances were passed on. But he cheated by not following through and Tamar ended up refused by all of her brothers-in-law.
No one would marry her.
Talk about feeling like a failure.
She took matters into her own hands and ended up pregnant by tricking her father-in-law. What Tamar did was wrong but God saw her heart and in the end, Tamar was considered more righteous because of her bold actions to carry on her husband’s name.
Our identity is found in God and God alone.
Read what the Bible says about Tamar’s failures in Genesis 38:6-30.
Disappointments don’t make you a failure, they mean God has other plans.
- How have other people made you feel like a failure? Think about what they’ve said or done and then think about why they may have done what they did.
People’s actions usually stem from their own hurt and suffering.
Instead of letting their actions bring you down and define you, pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit to help you see them as God does.
One Last Woman Who Experienced Failed
The Woman - Faith Over Failure
You likely know this unnamed woman’s story. For 12 years she’d suffered with a discharge of blood. She spent all her money, saw all the doctors, and only got worse. This disease made the woman legally unclean, unfit to be around other people.
Who knows what caused this woman’s disease but think about her for a minute.
- How would you feel if your disease made you legally unfit to be around people?
I’d be wracking my brain, trying to figure out what I’d done to cause the disease, and ultimately, I’d feel like a good-for-nothing failure.
This woman heard Jesus was in town and figured she’d give healing one more try. She didn’t go to Jesus for salvation; she went to Him because she wanted her disease gone. But God saw a woman who’s desperate faith would lead to a powerful testimony and bold faith.
Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48
- Is there something making you feel like a failure that’s been going on forever?
- What is it and why does it make you feel like a failure?
Put on your positivity hat and write down every possible way God could answer your prayer for deliverance or healing. Think about all the miracles in the Bible and be bold when you’re writing down what God might do.
Then spend some time asking God to deliver you from whatever’s making you feel like a failure.
There you go, 7 women in the Bible who experienced failure of some sort. Every character in the Bible (except Jesus) failed at one or more things. Do you think God wanted us prepared for failure or learning from other people’s mistakes?
I sure do!
As women of God, we need to share our failures and feelings of failure with others. The women in your life need to know that the world’s “success” ideology isn’t reality. Failure is real and we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us how to thrive in the midst of failure.
Our friends and children need to see us depending on God while we walk through failure.
Think about that for a minute…
Even if you feel like nothing but a failure and like you’ve failed at everything in life…
- What has a past failure taught you?
- How could it help others?
- How has a past failure kept you from something far more costly?
The biggest question isn’t when, where, or how we’ll fail – it’s what we’ll do when we fail. The next post in our “thriving with failure” series will explore what to do when you’ve failed or feel like a failure.
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Until next time remember that these Bible verses on failure have shown us...
Failure’s inevitable, but it doesn’t make you a failure.
Women in the Bible Who Failed - Summary
- God’s given us His Word so we can learn how to handle all aspects of life, failure included. With God’s Word as our guide, we need to learn how to flourish through our failures.
- Eve’s Story: Failing Doesn’t Equal Failure
- Failures are going to happen, but God’s a God of second chances who’ll use our failures to shape us into His image.
- Would you thank God for the things you’ve failed at and the things that’ve made you feel like a failure?
- Sarah’s Story: You’re Not a Failure Because You…
- When our physical body’s don’t do what we want them to, it doesn’t make us a failure.
- It means we get to depend on God and trust that He’s got the best plans.
- Rebekah’s Story: Your Children Don’t Make You a Failure
- As hard as it is to accept, you aren’t responsible for other people’s actions, not even if they’re your kids.
- Rachel’s Story: Competition Leads to Failure
- Competition will always lead to failure if we’re competing as the world does.
- As women of God, we’re to “count others as more significant than ourselves” and “run the race” for the great “imperishable prize” of eternal life.
- Miriam’s Story: Failure is only Feedback
- Failure is guaranteed in life and instead of letting our failures define our worth, we need to look at failures as a form of feedback.
- Tamar’s Story: People Can’t Make You a Failure
- Instead of letting other people’s actions drag us down, we’ve got to persevere and recognize that other people don’t define who we are.
- The Woman’s Story: Faith Over Failure
- When you feel like a failure these Bible verses offer hope, the hope that comes when you place your faith fully in Jesus’ hands.
- The women in your life need to know that the world’s “success” ideology isn’t reality.
- Failure is real and we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us how to thrive in the midst of failure.