When I think of people who had to overcome failure, I think of Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. But I don’t think this is because Peter personifies failure. No one does. Failure is not what we are or who we become—it is an event or events in our lives that come and go. Failure is an event that people overcome.
Peter was such a person, and the kind of person most of us can understand—so relatable. He was rough around the edges, brash, a fisherman prone to anger easily and say exactly what he thought and felt and precisely when he felt it, no matter whose feelings were at stake. But Jesus saw great potential in Peter. In fact, Jesus believed in him so much that he gave him that name: Peter, which means “rock.” When they met, Peter’s name was Simon, but Jesus saw Peter’s strength like a stone, and called him so.
That’s so encouraging because Peter experienced so many personal failings and yet that’s not what God sees when he looks at any of us. He doesn’t see FAILURE like a badge on a shirt or a name on a ball cap. When God looks at us, he sees our hearts and both what we are as well as what we are becoming. He sees the possibility in us, strength as strong as rock, the potential.
In spite of Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus never gave up on him. Jesus loved Peter, and long before they met, Jesus knew Peter would fail. What’s so beautiful, and should encourage us, is that when Peter did fail, Jesus didn’t fire him as a disciple or berate him and recount all his mistakes. Other people may respond that way, but not Jesus.
Instead, Jesus prayed for Peter, he showed confidence in Peter. He let Peter know that he, God’s Son, knew Peter’s weaknesses and loved him anyway. And get this: Jesus even said, “Peter, I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
Did you catch that? God is always rooting for us. He’s not against us, waiting for us to mess up so he can scold us. No, he’s for us. He believes in us. Jesus even prays for us.
No, failure is not a person, and God’s love for Peter proves it. Not long after Jesus said he was praying for Peter, our fisherman friend denied that he even knew Jesus. He made this mistake not once, but three times. In. A. Row.
Have you ever done anything that you so deeply regretted like Peter? I have. My guess is everyone has . . . or will. But the beautiful thing we can learn from Peter, the thing I love, is that he didn’t give up on himself—he admitted his failure. Because of that, he was able to go forward, knowing that God didn’t see him as a failure, but as a learner. Because, Peter shows us, failure is not who we are. It’s merely an event (or two or three) in our lives.
Excerpt from You Are Made For More!