If at first, you don’t succeed,
Try, try again…
This well-known proverb is traced back to 1840, and is credited to Thomas H. Palmer, an American educator. However, the adage was popularized by Edward Hickson in his morals song.
Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear.
If we strive, ‘tis no disgrace,
Though we did not win the race.
If you find your task is hard,
Legend says that the essence of this expression has its roots long before this date. Robert the Bruce, a 14th-century king of Scotland, after suffering a major defeat at the hands of the English, went into a cave to hide and lick his wounds. While there, he watched a spider try to spin a web. Each time the spider failed, it simply started again. Robert was so inspired by the little arachnid that he left the cave and lead his troops in a series of victories against England.
How often have you been advised to “try again?” “Just try again,” Mama said. “Try again,” your teacher encouraged.
Some years back, when I was being prepared for surgery, a sweet little nurse attempted to slip a needle into my arm in order to open a portal for anesthesia and other medication. She must have tried six or eight times. Each time was more painful, and each time she apologized.
When her supervisor came by to check on her, he asked, “Do you want to try again?”
“No, she doesn’t,” I said. I know she had to keep trying, but not on me.
Remember when you were learning to tie your shoes? You tried and tried and tried again. At times, you probably wanted to give up, but you kept trying.
Remember when you were learning to write? You clasped that fat pencil in your little hand, and clenched your tongue between your teeth, and tried desperately to trace the letters perfectly. It was hard, but you kept trying.
Maybe you remember when you were learning to drive with that old stick shift. It was hard to shift gears without stalling, but you tried again and again.
Someone has said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then stop. No use being goofy about it.” Some people feel that way. After a couple of tries, they just give up, but you kept trying, because you wanted to succeed.
I admit that we do not all succeed to the same degree. We seldom reach perfection in most things we attempt. Some of us are born with certain talents—musical, artistic, technical. If given opportunity, those with talent excel in a particular field, but they do not, overnight, progress from being talented to becoming a virtuoso. There’s a lot of trying before perfection is reached.
All of us struggle with certain things in our lives. Though, I had piano lessons, and I can read the music, and I know the fundamentals, still my playing is sort of at the beginner’s level. Yes, I am sure that had I tried harder, I would be better at it, but I am also sure that I have no real talent for it. However, I must be careful that I don’t use that as a cop out for everything.
I believe we struggle most in our spiritual development. As we develop spiritually, our lives become increasingly aligned with God’s truth and purpose for us. Soul, spirit, mind and strength are transformed, and we begin to understand what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is. Then what do we do?
If you are a true follower of Christ, you will desire to please Him. So we ask, “What does it take to be a good person? The answer is simple. Obey God. That’s where we get into trouble. We want to, but we don’t want to. We want our own way, but God has certain statutes that serve as guidelines for our behavior. He has commandments that He expects us to live by
Psalm 19:8-11, “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes…more to be desired are they than gold… And in keeping them there is great reward.”
So, we try to please God. We try to keep His commands, but what do we do when we are tempted and we fail? And we do fail! So we start over like the little spider. We try again, and again, and again, and with each try we become a little stronger until we are victorious.
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he is approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
In Revelation 3:10, Jesus promises, “Because you have kept my command to persevere, (because you never gave up, because you kept on trying) I also will keep you from the hour of trial…”
Understand! Jesus didn’t leave us with a bunch of rules and then desert us. NO!
We have His promise in Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
So, take a lesson from that tenacious little spider. If he can spin a web, so can you.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!