Sep 10, 2017

Failures and God's plan for us - Trial of Faith Series


Failures & God's plan for us
There's something in all of us that intuitively resists failure. Yet, all of us have been touched by failure at some point of our lives. We may have recovered from those failures, but even now, there is that shame that is associated with the failure. When we look back, we may think "God! Surely we knew better than that!". Today, I would like to meditate on failure as a great trial of our faith. We may have failed in our jobs, academics, in our family life, in our Christian walk, in our ministry. Let's ask the Lord for a faith and a relation with the Lord that's strong even in our times of failure.

Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift 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." 

Peter was a strong apostle. Even before he was raised in the apostolic ranks, we see a strength of personality in him. A natural leader, an impulsive man, one who wouldn't hesitate to leave the boats and follow the Lord, one who would easily jump out of the boat to swim to the Lord or to leave the comfort of the boat to walk on water. The owner of a large heart - one who desired to do much for the Lord. We see him as a natural choice. Yet, the spiritual world operates on principles which are contrary to nature. In his very strength lay a weakness, which if allowed to continue, would bring down his ministry and life as a crack in the foundation can bring down the house that it's founded upon. Pls note: Peter was strong - but his confidence was in himself and not in God. The high degree of revelation that he received from God elevated his spirit and the calling as a leader further cemented the pedestal on which he had placed himself. The immense potential of Peter as a threat to his kingdom & the impetuous statements he made about his infallibility attracted satan's desire to sift Peter as wheat. But remember, God's on the throne! Can we start seeing satan as a mere instrument in God's hands to produce the transformation in us - to reveal our weaknesses, to cut us to shape, to remove our rough edges?

The greatest hindrance to Peter being used as a disciple and apostle is not satan. It is Peter himself. He is totally self confident but his confidence is not in God. He is rather proud of himself and thinks he'll never ever betray the Lord. Mat 26:33 - though all leave you, I will not be offended with you. (in other words, Lord, you don't know what you are talking about - I am made of better stuff than all the others!) 

The Lord sees pride as a greater danger than any other sin. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Unless Peter learns to rely on Jesus and Him alone, he will never be able to qualify for the apostolic task that Jesus had for him. His current spiritual state meant that he had to be sifted before the Lord could use him. Sifting meant that the grain and chaff in Peter's life is to be separated. Sifting meant that the false foundations which he may have laid for his life (natural strength & ability) will be demolished before the true foundation (Christ) is laid. Sifting meant severe trials that he will go through. Yes, it even meant failure - to the point that Peter will deny the Lord before a little servant girl. How the mighty fall!

This is not just about Peter. It's about every child of God who has been given a promise by the Lord. In the above verses, the Lord says: I have prayed for you. Our High-priest (the Lord Jesus) is not one who is untouched by our weaknesses. He is not bothered about your failures. You may fail - But your faith shouldn't fail. Today, we can stand and say that we have been buffeted by forces and people stronger than us. And to our grief, we've failed far too many times. Yet, we are here by God's grace, thanks to His intercession for us. (therein lies the difference between the apostasy of Judas and the restoration of Peter)

A failed (and restored) Peter is a tender-hearted Peter. No more confidence in self. Humbled and yielded as a vessel in the Lord's hands. He is no more desirous of being No.1. But is thankful that his name is in the book of life. He doesn't compete with his brethren. He is able to stand with them on the day of Pentecost and preach the Good News. As the Lord prayed for him, once he was converted he was able to strengthen his brethren. It is such a person who is able to pen the verse 1 Pet 5:10 to the edification of the weak brethren who may be in a season of trials.  
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast

Dear friend, if you have failed, you are in good company. We are in the hands of a potter who makes us into a beautiful vessel even despite our failures and shortcomings. But our faith - let it not fail!