“Be on your guard; stand firm in your faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
Overcoming failure takes great courage. Talking about our failures is not among our favorite topics of conversation, as it makes us feel exposed and vulnerable for who we are: sinners saved by grace. Battling failure everyday from outbursts of anger, to jealous thoughts, harsh words, or lying can leave us feeling beaten down without the strength to combat these negative thoughts before harsh words slip out or anger is ignited, yet again.
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest companions, experienced the greatest failure of his life. How Peter moves on from his great failure can help us have the courage to not get stuck. When called out in the courtyard of the high priests just outside where Jesus was questioned before the Sanhedrin, Peter denies Jesus three times. Even after Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times in Matthew 26:34, Peter does not assess the situation rightly in the courtyard as the temptation Jesus warned him about. He denied he knew his best friend and his Lord.
Have you heard that nudge from the Holy Spirit that you might be putting yourself in a difficult situation? I know I have numerous times.
Have you continually felt uncomfortable when you associate closely with friends who gossip or are mean-spirited?
Have you been the only one who is Christian in a conversation about God and the church where most people think that they are enlightened people who do not need God?
In the situation with gossip, you can choose to say something mean about that person too or you can choose to speak kind words. In the situation where you feel alone as a believer, you can choose to deny or speak of your Christian faith and how Christian principles are relevant to the particular conversation. So, how do you handle failure when you know what you said was mean-spirited or you were silent about your faith? After Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him to repent, he had the courage to get back into the fight as later in Acts 4 we see him leading the church and speaking fearlessly about his faith in Jesus before the Sanhedrin.
How can you have that same courage to overcome your failure? First, hear the rooster crow as Peter did after he denied Jesus. You will probably not hear an audible rooster, unless you live on a farm but that sure might help the rest of us, if we did. The rooster crow might be the convicting words from the Holy Spirit that you experience like the turning on of a light switch or a gentle nudge, like a dim light becoming brighter as you remember God’s Word. Secondly, as you remember God’s Word and His great love for you demonstrated by Jesus dying for your sins, your heart will begin to melt in sorrow and you will repent for what you have done.
The commentator Matthew Henry hits the nail on the head in his statement on godly sorrow: “Those that have truly sorrowed for sin, will sorrow upon every remembrance of it; yet not so as to hinder, but rather to increase, their joy in God and in his mercy and grace.” Lastly, when you are in a difficult situation and tempted, remember the Lord is with you and rely on His help to face the temptation rather than to succumb to it, and when you fail, confess, repent, and get back into the fight.
~Mary Carmen Englert
Sacred Story is honored to have Mary Carmen Englert as a monthly contributor.