“And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
As mothers, we so desperately want our children to succeed. We pray for them, we nurture them in hopes that they will choose well. And with that, comes what is sometimes a panic-stricken desire for our children to avoid failure. Now, don’t get me wrong: no mother sits around dreaming of ways for their child to fail. Jesus gives us these amazing words in Luke, showing us that He is not afraid of failure.
Here, Jesus comes to Peter, and really to all of us (the “you” in chapter 31 is plural!!). He says that Satan has asked that he may sift us. Now at this point, Jesus can pray for many things. He could pray that Peter is strong enough to resist the temptation to deny Jesus. He could pray that he would only deny him once, instead of three times. He could even just pray that Peter would be delivered from this sifting all together. He could have said, “NO!” to Satan. But he didn’t. Jesus’ view goes far beyond the mundane, and daily. His point of view includes all of eternity past and present, and yet to come. And so Jesus prays for what will work the most good for Peter, the disciples, the church, and what will bring God the most glory.
From our perspective, it seems so easy... The best thing would be for no sin. And yet, we know that isn’t the story of the human race. We always choose sin. And so, God writes an even grander story: redemption. He prays that Peter’s faith would not fail, and that after he has returned, that he would strengthen his brothers.
Wow! This is difficult as a mom!! But if we desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we must make failure part of our instruction. Our children, and our disciples, must be taught how to fail, just as much as they must be taught how to succeed. We must be willing to let grace shape our discipling. Grace does not mean that we remove the standard, or lower our expectations for our children. In fact, grace requires that we hold God’s Word out as the standard. But grace also bends itself down to the one who has not met the standard. It picks them up, dusts them off, and encourages them to continue on. It says with encouragement, “Your faith will not fail!!”, and it exhorts the fallen to rise again and encourage those around them. Use those failures to strengthen those around you. Don’t waste your failures, but instead, hold them out to the world as shining examples of God’s grace toward you.
I was convinced (and convicted!) of this one day as I sat sharing my testimony with a friend. I wondered later, if I had held back any of the wickedness of my sin and failure, in order to make myself appear not “quite so bad.” Right then, the Lord spoke clearly that I withhold glory from Him when I refuse to show how bad I really was. Every failure, every mistake, every sin, is a beautiful picture of the redeeming power of God’s love. Because, by His grace, I am not that person anymore. And so, I bring the most glory to God, when I am painfully honest about my failures, and use them as opportunities to strengthen my brothers and sisters.