“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:31-32
In Luke 22, Jesus continues to teach and prepare His disciples, even during His last precious meal with them. Jesus warns Peter of a danger that lay ahead of him. In verses 33 we read, “Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” Jesus responds in verse 34, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” We all know that Peter denied the Lord three times that very night.
But remember what Jesus prayed for In Luke 22. He prayed that when Satan tempted Peter, his faith would not fail. He didn’t pray that Peter would not fall in temptation, but that when he did fall, his faith in God’s perfect love would not fail him That is faith, that no matter how many mistakes and failures we make, God still loves us, just as we are.
Do you ever wonder why Jesus didn’t say “Simon I have prayed that God will give you to courage not to deny me at all, let alone three times?” I find it interesting that the Lord did not pray for Peter not to fail. After all, Peter’s failure on the night of Jesus’ trial was pretty bad. In the hour of his Lord’s greatest anguish, Peter had denied even knowing him. This sin shook Peter to the core of his being. In Jesus’ worst moments, Peter was denying he had any connection with the Lord even though a short time before his denials, he had been unshakable in his belief that he would never turn away from the Lord.
When Jesus chose you and I to be His disciple, He expected our future failures as He expected Peter’s. We may not want to believe that we could deny Jesus, but Jesus knows what is in us. So he exhorts us along with Peter to “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:41)
The key is not to let our failures define us. And, don’t internalize a failure until it starts to ferment into regret. Own it. Learn from it. Pain can be a great teacher. As C.S Lewis said, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” Just because you’re down doesn’t mean you’re out. Not by a long shot. Even in our failures, God can still accomplish His purpose. It’s through our weaknesses that He shows himself strong. Peter’s failure did not define him. And ours will not define us. They are humbling stumbles along the path of following Jesus, who paid for them all on the cross. Jesus specializes in transforming failures into rocks of strength for His church.
1. Read Hebrews 12:11-13: How do these verses apply to failure? What hope do they give?
2. What is the most significant thing about failure you have learned this week? How can we apply what you have learned to your life?