“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
Jesus’ prayer concern had nothing to do with Peter denying Him three times; in His mind that was a done deal. What He was concerned about was Peter having the faith to get back up after he had fallen. Peter was about to fall hard and he couldn’t see it coming. In fact, in the very next verse he tells Jesus that he is “ready to go both to prison and to death” for Him. The reality is that he isn’t ready to stand up for Jesus in front of a servant girl. After his failure he would experience the shame and remorse of his actions verses what he had promised. He would loathe himself for a season.
But Jesus prayed that his faith wouldn’t fail. That Peter would remember God’s love for him and God’s wisdom to take even our brokenness and make something good out of it. That he would be able to look beyond himself and see the bigger picture, recognizing God’s hand even in allowing his failure.
When God looks at our lives, like He did at Peter’s, He sometimes makes a big call for change. It seems like we are put in survival mode when He brings something to bear on us that literally exposes everything inside of us. Sometimes it’s a failure that brings this to light, sometimes it’s a trial, sometimes it’s’ a difficult relationship, and sometimes it’s just God’s direct dealing. When God goes there you aren’t going to get better until you agree with Him about the depth of the problem and begin to face it with His love and grace.
When we sit in shame, condemnation, and self loathing instead of getting back up again in faith, all it means is that it’s going to take that much longer. Proverbs says that a righteous man falls down seven times and gets back up. (Proverbs 24:16) Successful Christians are not those who never fall but those who have learned how to get up quickly!