Rarely will one of God’s heroes appear in scripture without experiencing failure. As soon as you read the name, you remember the story. Peter experienced the extreme highs and lows of life. From days spent in blessed fellowship with Christ, to the heart-wrenching erosion of loyalty when he denied the Lord in the temple courtyard. Not once. Not twice. But three times. Once he realized his failure, “he went out and wept bitterly” (Lk. 22:62).
Can we remember a failure that was dramatic and so tearful that we hardly need to be reminded of the feelings? “There is no pit so deep but that He is not deeper still” (Betsie ten Boom). As dark and as deep and as tragic as your failure may be, the Lord is willing to go to the depths of it with you.
This was true of Peter, too. Following the surprising warning of Satan’s attack, Jesus gave Peter a statement of fact. “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32a). Then there was a veiled reassurance, “And you, when once you have turned again… Strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32b). Doesn’t this suggest that Peter was going to fall? “Once you have turned again,” Jesus said, “then use it to strengthen your brothers.” He knew Peter would fall, but He prayed for him that he would not remain fallen. Jesus loved Peter – even at this point of deepest weakness.
How did He prove that love? After the resurrection, while the women were standing at the tomb, an angel told them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen. He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid him. But, go tell his disciples and Peter” (Mk. 16:6-7). “Don’t forget Peter. He’s the last one who thinks that I’ll ever want to see again. Tell Peter!” What grace!
Somewhere between the time Peter fell and this angelic announcement, there was a process during which Peter wallowed in remorse, wishing he could, if possible, correct his error. But, he could not. And somewhere in the midst of it, he heard the Lord say to him, “Peter, I forgive you. I understand. Use it to strengthen your brothers.” That is why Peter is able to write, “May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection” (1Pet. 1:2-3). Why did this mean so much to Peter? Because it was at the resurrection Peter’s name was called, and the Lord in tender mercy said, “Tell him I’ve come back.”
When Peter writes his first letter he writes as a man who has experienced great hope. By the time he wrote this letter, Peter had come to the place where he was not only back on the scene but he was aggressively engaged in the formation of the early church.
It can happen to us too. Just like fallen and forgiven Peter, we can find new hope despite our failures. Believers are born to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ for the dead (1 Pet 1:3). What tender mercy! What triumphant grace! Failure is not forever. God specializes in forgiveness and hope. He can use even your worst failures in a mighty way.
by Rickie Jenkins