When Your Faith Fails
Recently, when studying the life of Peter, I stopped in my tracks at a verse I’ve read many times before, but not actually absorbed.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter. They are gathered in an upper room, celebrating the Passover together. No one but Jesus knows that this night will change their lives forever.
Soon Jesus will take them all to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He will pour his heart out to God, asking Him to find another way to save the world – and yet still agree to be obedient to God’s plan. Then the guards will invade the quiet garden and arrest Jesus. They will lead Him through a mock trial. While most of the disciples hide in fear, Jesus will be condemned to death by crucifixion.
Jesus knew these things were imminent. Many times, He had tried to tell them, but they missed it every time. Tonight, as they celebrated the Passover, He tore the bread and shared it with them. “This is my body broken for you.” (vs. 19) Once more, He told them someone would betray Him. They just didn’t understand.
Then He told Peter to expect Satan to rattle his cage (my version of sift you like wheat.) Peter responded with confidence, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” (Vs. 33)
No, he wasn’t, and Jesus knew it.
“I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Vs. 34)
My heart aches for Peter. It happened just as Jesus said it would. I don’t think Peter meant to do it, or planned to do it, or even wanted to do it. He was simply afraid and bewildered. He wasn’t prepared for the servant girl’s question/accusation. (vs. 56-57) When the cock crowed, however, and Jesus turned and looked at Peter, shameful sorrow drowned him in remorse. (vs 61-62)
I wonder when he remembered – and understood – Jesus’ words.
The verse jumped off the page into my heart. Jesus’ kind words were important to Peter – and to me!
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.”
- Notice Satan had to ask to tempt Peter in this way.
There’s nothing that happens to me which God does not know ahead of time – even if He is not the author of it.
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
- Jesus prayed ahead of time for Peter’s faith.
Wow. Even though He knows which tests I’ll fail, His main concern is for my faith. So, He asks His Father to give me faith. I figure anything Jesus asks on my behalf is a done deal. Therefore, faith is available to me when I fail, regardless of how ashamed or defeated I feel.
“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
- Jesus already had Peter’s next assignment ready for him when he returned (or admitted his sin). He was to strengthen his brothers.
God is not finished with me. He doesn’t throw me to the side of the road as useless. He waits for me to return, and then welcomes me back to His service.
In other words, Jesus said, “Okay Peter, Satan is about to tempt you to disown me, and you are going to do it. But I’ve already asked God to give you extra faith to help you remember forgiveness is available to you. When you come back to me, I’ve got a job waiting for you. Don’t forget these words. I still want you.”
Don’t forget these words.
He still wants you.
And He’s been praying for your faith since before you left.
You can go back now.