“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
It struck me as I read this verse the other day that Jesus’ perspective of our lives is so very different from our own. Can you imagine what Simon Peter thought of these words spoken to him by Jesus? I can only think his response would have been much the same as mine. He would have heard “I have prayed . . . that your faith may not fail.”
That’s it. Over. Done. Jesus prayed my faith wouldn’t fail, so I’m good to go. We know His prayers get answered. Always. Because He and the Father are one. So while Satan will sift, I’ll be fine.
Maybe, as I imagine I would, Peter completely skipped over those “when you have turned back” words. Because, frankly, who really knows what those mean. After I’m tempted and my faith overcomes the temptation? That’s probably it. Then I can strengthen my brothers with my strong faith. Got it. I know where this is going.
But as so often happens in my life and yours, Peter didn’t know where that was going. And it took him to a place he never imagined he’d be—denying Christ. Not just hedging around the question. Not keeping silent when he should have come to His defense. But out and denial. Not once. Not twice. But three times.
Peter was devastated over what he’d done.
At some point did he remember the rest of Jesus’ words to him? They were such certain words.
“When you have turned back.” Not if.
“Strengthen your brothers.” A command. A task to do. Even after such a monumental failure of faith.
And yet hadn’t Jesus prayed Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail?
And that’s where perspective comes in. My guess is that if Peter was anything like me, he assumed his faith had failed in his denial of Jesus. And that meant Jesus’ prayer for him had failed, too. But to Jesus, Peter’s faith hadn’t failed, His prayer was answered—because of the “when you have turned back.”
Faith is so much more than one moment. It is the path we choose to walk or bypass in the course of our lives. Occasionally we stumble off the road. But faith gives us the will to get back on track, believing we can confess our sin, receive forgiveness and walk on, and that God can use us to strengthen others with our stories of failures and restorations.
Jesus’ words to Peter give me hope. How about you?