“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of 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.”
A devotional that I read this morning gave me pause and made me wonder, “Have I ever denied Christ in public? Have I ever done what Peter did in any way, shape, or form when he denied Christ?” After some thought and consideration, I was able to affirm that I’d never denied Christ – in public, in that way. But, when God pushed me deeper with another question, “Have I ever denied Christ in my heart?” That question gave me a long pause.
After wrestling with my guilt, I finally admitted that there have been many times that I’ve questioned and doubted God because of external circumstances in my life. From layoffs to rejection, from fights with loved ones to closed doors, from moments of grief to moments of regret, I’ve denied God’s love, care, concern time and time again.
Maybe I’m the only one who has done this. Maybe I’m the only one who has questioned, doubted and denied God in my heart and mind. Or, maybe you’ve been there done that as well. Maybe you’ve looked around and seen the world falling apart and wondered, “Why have you forsaken us, God?”
Maybe it’s the seemingly never-ending pandemic, maybe it’s that promotion denial, maybe it’s the relationship falling apart, maybe it’s the financial worries, or maybe it’s some other external factor that has caused you to stand with Peter.
Maybe it’s none of that. Maybe it’s something internal. Maybe it’s the grief that won’t go away after the loved one has died. Maybe it’s the guilt that is gnawing at you for the mistake you made years ago. Maybe it’s the life that has never reached its fullest potential. Maybe it’s the lack of recognition or praise that you think you deserved for the accomplishment or the job well done. Maybe it’s none of that but something deeper that can’t be spoken or even allowed to come to mind.
Maybe it’s childhood trauma or young person pain. Maybe it’s church hurt or family hurt. Maybe it’s just this society in which we live and to whom Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up with his life. Maybe it’s none of that or all of that.
Whatever your reason, Jesus knows and Jesus cares. Remember, what Jesus said to Peter before he predicted the denial in Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of 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.”
Jesus had already created the solution. He prayed for Peter and then he prepared Peter so that Peter could help others who would feel that guilt of failing God. Sometimes when this verse is preached we missed that gem. Jesus didn’t tell Peter the truth to make him feel guilty. Jesus told Peter the truth to prepare him for restoration. I suspect after the denial and the initial pain of the guilt wore off, Peter remembered that Jesus prayed for him. Peter missed the mark but never lost his faith. We are called to do the same, to hold onto our faith no matter what.
Christ has already prayed for us. God has prepared our restoration. The cross and resurrection are preparation for our restoration. The daily love notes that God sends us through people, things, and the power of the Holy Spirit creates our restoration. God is never surprised at our fumbles. Instead, God has already placed his hand on the ball, picked it up, and carried it into the endzone for us. All we need to do is do like Peter was instructed to do after the fumble, turn back and strengthen others.
Today, I hope that these words strengthen you and remind you that God loves you and is waiting for you in the endzone of life with the victory that Christ has already won for us.
Prompt for Thought: Is there a place where you need God’s restoration? If so, consider allowing God and others to pray for you. Then, go and strengthen another.
Prayer for the Journey: God, thank you for your continual love, grace, and mercy. Thank you for your patience with us. Thank you for preparing us for our mistakes, fumbles, and Peter moments. God, thank you for your Son and our Savior, Christ Jesus. God, thank you for never allowing our fumbles to cause us to lose the game. In Jesus’ name, Amen.