Scripture teaches us very plainly that we “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Viewing our stumbles, our weakness and our times of doubt as failure is a dangerous thing because it creates separation and isolation within us. During the Last Supper Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the next morning. Of course Peter refused to accept or believe this bit of prophesy, he was confident in his faith and sure that even if everyone else left Jesus, he would stay, even if it cost him his life.
The piece that I believe we often miss is found in Luke 22. Luke writes the details of Jesus’ announcement to Peter a bit differently. He says that Jesus called to him, “Simon, Simon! Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to ME, strengthen your brethren.” At the same time that Jesus is telling Peter about the temptation that is coming, He also tells Him that He has prayed. Even more, if you look closely, you see that Jesus is letting Peter know that he will give in to this temptation but that He has already created a way for Him to return and continue to be useful by strengthening his brothers. Too many times we view being weak as being a failure. Peter was weak that night, and yes, he denied Jesus three times, so in that instance we could say that he failed, but the reality is that Jesus already knew Peter’s weakness and He prayed not merely that Peter would overcome that particular temptation but that Peter would not allow his faith to fail after he gave in to temptation. The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that each temptation is an overwhelming life or death situation, but Scripture says that with each temptation that Satan brings to us, God, at the same time brings us a way of escape. This means that each temptation is an opportunity not to prove ourselves to God but to look to Him for the help that He has promised to provide.
Peter gave in to the temptation of fear that night and it broke his heart, but what we see is that it did not change Jesus’ love or plan for his life. The same is true for you and I today. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy when they say that you have now been excluded that you have failed too much or too many times, listen to the calm and loving voice of Jesus, “when you have returned”, he started planning Peter’s return long before Peter ever was tempted to sin. He does the same for you and me, trust in the perfect grace of Christ, it has the power not to merely forgive you once, but to forgive you once and for all. We must continue to follow Jesus along His path of righteousness, even in the midst of failure, He is not sending us away, He is planning and providing for our return.