Have you ever heard the phrase, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? This phrase is meant to be an encouragement against failure. If you fail at something the first time, don’t feel bad. Just pick yourself up and try it again.
But what if God doesn’t want you to try again? I’m not saying that God never wants us to try again when we fail; there are many times in the Bible when the nation of Israel experienced setbacks and God often encouraged them to try again, starting with confession and repentance. However, sometimes that isn’t the case. I read this interesting verse in Malachi recently:
Though Edom says, ‘We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins’; thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘They may build, but I will tear down’ (Malachi 1:4a, b).
In this section of the verse, God is talking about a city and people (Edom, the people descended from Jacob’s brother Esau) who’ve experienced a “setback.” In this case, their city and their people lie in ruins. This verse says that Edom’s first instinct will be to rebuild their community from the ruins, but God says that if they do that, He will just tear it down again.
However, as I said above, sometimes God does want us to try again. When the Israelites were taken captive and exiled in Babylon, the temple and walls of Jerusalem were defiled and destroyed. Did God mean for Israel to stop trying? Of course not! He sent Ezra to help rebuild the temple and Nehemiah to oversee the rebuilding of the city walls; in addition, these two men worked to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.
So, how do you know whether God wants you to try again? The best way to know is through prayer. Pray and ask God to show you why things didn’t work out. Don’t expect an answer right away. Remember, we can’t force God to show up in prayer–we need to humble our hearts and quiet our spirits before God in order to hear what He has to tell us. Then, ask God if it’s His will for you to try again. If it is, great; try again and make sure that you cover the whole undertaking in prayer.
If, however, God says it isn’t His will for you to try again, don’t try to impose your will over God’s because He will only tear it down again. When we try to impose our will over God’s will, it’s called pride, and we know that God “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34), right? If He doesn’t want you to try again, let the idea go and walk away, then ask God what He wants you to do.
God isn’t always opposed to rebuilding things that have been torn down, but we need to make sure that when we rebuild, we’re doing it for His kingdom and not for our own.
Girls, have you ever tried to “rebuild” something that God didn’t want you to? What happened?
Your eyes will see this and you will say, ‘The Lord be magnified beyond the border of Israel!’ (Malachi 1:5).
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