I feel like I’ve been through the spiritual ringer this last week. Like I’m being tested. Refined again. Yippee.
I’ve been tempted to think things my mind shouldn’t be thinking, have said a few “choice” words that I wish I hadn’t, gave myself a sweet little paper cut on my finger that felt like a razor blade took to it, have woken up with migraines during the night for no apparent reason, have been struggling with having not-so-nice conversations with people in my head, have been tempted to question a few things in life, and on and on. Little things. Big things. Many things.
I have found that I generally fare well with bigger, obvious tests. I text my posse and ask for prayer, pull out the “big-guns” of Scripture, process with my hubby, prepare for battle, etc. But, oh, those little things . . . I’ve recognized, through all of this, that it’s when things seem to pile up, as little as they may be, that my faith is tested most. That last straw has been placed. Back broken.
As I literally got down on my knees today, (more out of habit as opposed to really wanting to), I began a conversation with God. It went with something like this:
God, I’m tired. I feel like I’m always failing.
You are. You will. The question is, will you get back up again?
After swallowing my aha moment, I immediately remembered Peter. You probably know the story. In the book of Luke, Jesus told Peter that Satan was asking permission to make mincemeat out of him. Shred him to pieces. Render him useless.
And Jesus’ reply?
“But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon [Peter], that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32, NLT, emphasis mine)
Peter’s faith did fail. He would go on to deny Jesus three times – even using a few of his own “choice” words as he did. I’d personally call that an epic fail.
But, he got back up. He recognized, repented, and reestablished.
And that’s what Jesus’ prayer for him was all about. “So when you have repented and turned to me again . . .” He knew Peter was going to fail. He even predicted it. So what was His prayer for Peter?
That when he did fail, he would not succumb to that failure. That it would not define him; keep him down; keep him from turning back to Jesus; keep him from trying again. And again. And again. That Peter would see that “his faith not failing” wasn’t about having a failure moment; it was about what he was going to do after his failure. With his failure. That he would take his own failure and use it to strengthen others who also would fail.
Maybe that’s why the Bible has so much to say about persevering, not giving up, and running the race of life with endurance (see James 1:12-18, Heb. 12:1-3, Gal. 6:9). Maybe getting an “A” during tests of faith has nothing to do with our everyday failures, but rather with whether we believe Jesus when He said on the cross immediately prior to His death, “It is finished.” It is now done. Over. Sin covered. New beginnings possible. Every day. And we recognize, repent, re-group and reestablish.
And then tomorrow? We do it again if necessary. With a smile on our faces that recognizes the beautiful gift God has given us – an opportunity to receive a passing grade on all of our faith tests, every single time, as we choose to continue on with Him and let Him use our “failures” to help and strengthen others.
Happy test taking!