Facing our weakness gives us knowledge to further the Kingdom.
BY ELIZABETH ARIEL
Peter fixed his eyes on the flames leaping off the burning logs as he tried to hide from the guards' pesky stares. Twice, now, he had been accused of being a follower of Jesus and twice he had sworn until the accusations had faltered into a subdued silence. But the mocking of the soldiers as they questioned Jesus devoured the silence. Each new question tightened the steel grip of fear on Peter's heart. Not even the tongues of fire could melt his fear.
"Oh, my God! What have I done?' the words pulsed violently through Peter's head. He leaped up, stumbling over the log, and barreled through the iron gate. He sobbed uncontrollably, wiping the tears off his face with his sleeve, as he ran through the empty streets to Gethsemane. Peter fell to the ground and writhed in agony in the dust. How could he ever face Jesus again?
How could he ever face Jesus again?
His thoughts rambled on: He had been so sure of his commitment. Why had he fallen asleep in the garden and failed to pray as Jesus had instructed him? Why had he been too proud to take Jesus' warning seriously? What if Jesus died alone without even one friend? Surely he could have avoided this if he had just stayed awake and prayed for strength.
Finally exhausted, Peter lay still. An unstoppable procession of tears streamed down his face even though his eyes were squeezed shut. Jesus' words echoed through his head: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So, when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31, 32 NLT
Those last words, "strengthen your brothers," made Peter's eyes pop open. "Who me, the greatest failure of all, strengthen my brothers? How could I possibly have anything to offer? I am such a cocky fool.”
Jesus had not cut him off at the point of failure. He had given him a task instead.
The biggest lesson of Peter's life was just beginning to dawn on him. He had discovered his own weakness, but now he was about to discover the importance of knowing it.
Knowing our own weakness is essential to being able ministers. Peter was called to lead the first century church. Knowing his own inability brought humility, compassion and the ability to bear with others as they struggled. His failure was an essential part of his preparation for leadership.
Jesus did not pray that Peter would be strong enough to stand the betrayal test. Nor did he pray that he would not be tested. He prayed that his faith would not fail, that he would have hope despite his own inability to follow Jesus, and that hope would lead to his own restoration, and ministry to others.
Jesus, himself, had to experience weakness through suffering and temptation in order to be our high priest.
Compassion can flow from the knowledge of our weakness. Christ is compassionate with us because he knows and understands what we go through. We can be compassionate with others as we grasp the reality of our own weakness. Compassion enables us to relate to others without judgment and criticism. It is a life force that flows through us to strengthen and encourage.
The hope and nurture that God gives us when we struggle or even fall, becomes the strength we can impart to others. As 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 says, "God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." NLT
If we lack this humility, we are more vulnerable to temptation.
But even though knowing our weakness is essential, God does not leave us in the place of weakness. When Jesus addressed Peter about his coming failure, he called him by his birth name, "Simon," referring to his human nature. But Jesus had already renamed him "Peter," symbolizing who he would be in the Spirit.
That day came at Pentecost when tongues of fire fell from heaven and Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Simon was now Peter. This transformed man was a supernaturally empowered man, one who eventually faced the cross without fear.
God wants to use our failures to make us compassionate kingdom builders. But he will never leave us in the place of failure and weakness. Through his Spirit we become the mighty ones dressed in human flesh. As 2 Corinthians 2:7 (NLT) says, "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."
Elizabeth Ariel is a home schooling mom who is raising up, by God's grace, five champion warriors for His kingdom. She takes great joy in discovering God's creativity in both writing and dance. She is passionate about worship, intimacy with God, and building up believers through encouragement and servanthood.