Strength comes from Christ.
Struggling with doubt and denial seems far away from the life of a believer. However, even the most devout follower can have their moments. How does a believer handle these lapses of faith?
Reach out to Jesus amidst the doubt.
In Matthew 14, Jesus came to the disciples by walking on the sea to the boat. Wanting definite confirmation that it was truly Jesus, Peter asks that he may as well walk on the water to Jesus. Jesus replied,” Come.” Peter stepped out onto the water. Noticing the wind, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. He then cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him. He asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” Once they were back in the boat, the wind ceased.
Peter was eager to believe. He even began to walk on the water until the surroundings became so much that he took his eyes off of Jesus. Even as he began to sink, he cried out to Jesus to be saved. In his doubt, he still knew that Jesus could save him.
There are moments when we seem to be sinking, just like Peter. We forget that Jesus has power over the wind and turbulent seas in our lives. It doesn’t mean we will not have storms. It means that we must still keep our focus on Christ to keep walking toward Him. If not, fear sets in and we start to sink. However, do not continue to sink! Cry out to our Savior, who reaches out to save you, despite the doubt and fear. He knows our struggles. Let Him reach out and grab you!
Notice that once they were back in the boat, the wind ceased. The wind rises when you need to focus. It is merely noise and distraction. Jesus provides stability and can calm the storms. Just reach out to Him!
Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power; You who still the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, AND the tumult of the people. Psalm 65:6-7
Return to Christ’s words after denial.
There is no doubt that Peter loved Christ. After Christ announced His departure to the disciples, Peter wanted to follow and, even, lay down his life for Christ. Christ told him (Peter) of how he would deny Him (Christ) later. Peter couldn’t believe it.
Most of us never think that we would never deny Christ. Yet in many ways, some deny Him everyday without notice. We can ignore His voice telling us to talk to the person beside us. We can ignore a situation in which we should stand up for Christ. We can choose to live for ourselves each day, instead of dying to ourselves. These are all ways of denial.
After Jesus was arrested, Peter followed Him at a distance. Several people began to notice Peter. They knew that he was a believer. Some thought they even seen him with Jesus. Peter denied these accusations, even though they were true. He tried to blend in with others around him. It was no use, by his demeanor and words, he was given away to be a believer. By his third denial, Peter heard a rooster crow. He then remembered how Christ had said that he (Peter) would deny Him (Christ). Tears began to flow bitterly as he realized how he denied Jesus.
Christ truly knows our heart. He knew that Peter loved Him, yet, once again, he allowed fear to cloud his heart. Jesus knows if we will bend under pressure. Peter bent. Peter allowed his fear of men overtake his love for Christ. He was grieved by his own actions. His tears proved of his genuine repentance and sorrow of his actions. Are you ever grieved by your actions? Maybe you could have handled a situation better and just gave in to the fear. Return to Christ’s words and rise above your actions.
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing sheaves with him. Psalm 126: 5-6
Restoration is possible when we follow Christ
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Peter and other disciples had gone to Galilee and went fishing (fishing was, after all, their occupation). While fishing out in a boat, Christ called to them from the shore. Opposite of his first response, when he was fearful about sinking into the water, Peter dove into the water and swam toward Christ. That morning, Jesus ask Peter if he loved Him. Knowing already His heart, Peter answered, “Yes.” Jesus then commanded him to “feed my lambs.” Jesus did this a total of three times, the same number of times that Peter denied Jesus.
Jesus wanted to restore Peter to a place of service and duty to care of “His flock.” Jesus knew Peter’s heart. The doubt and denial in Peter’s life strengthen him for future service to the Lord. He followed Christ until his own death.
We too can learn from the strength that came from Peter’s failures. Instead of allowing doubt, fear, and denial to consume him, Peter allowed those experiences to strengthen his resolve to follow Christ more vigorously.
Do not allow your failures to hinder your walk with Christ. Embrace forgiveness and restoration. Allow it to give you strength to continue on.