When Peter was sifted, he failed miserably in one sense, but not in his faith. You may be thinking, “How can that be? This man denied knowing Jesus three different times.”
If Peter had failed completely, Jesus’ praying would have been to no avail. I know Peter’s faith did not fail. Just as he swore and it looked as if the Lord had lost a friend and anointed disciple, Peter looked into the eyes of Christ and melted. “Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62, NKJV). Wept bitterly in the Greek actually means he gave “a piercing, violent cry.”
I picture Peter walking toward the Judean hills, falling on his face with hands outstretched, crying, “O Father, he was right. I didn’t listen. He warned me that Satan would try to destroy my faith. I couldn’t even stand up to a maid. Forgive me, O Lord. I love him. To whom else shall I go?”
I can see Peter getting to his feet then with the Spirit of God flowing through him, shouting, “Satan, be gone! I failed him, but I still love him. He prophesied that I would come back and be a strength to others, a rock.” Indeed, Peter was the first disciple to reach the tomb when they were told Jesus had risen. He was worshipping when Jesus was translated to glory. It was Peter who stood as God’s spokesman on the day of Pentecost.
A flood of people are coming to the Lord today. Where will they find strength in the troubled times ahead? They will find it from the sifted saints like Peter who can say with authority, “Don’t trust yourself. Take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall” (see 1 Corinthians 10:12-13).
Do you sense a seductive pull of temptation in your life? Is a deep trouble brewing in your heart? Hear the words of Jesus and realize that Satan may have been given permission to sift you. Don’t take that lightly. We are to read Peter’s story and be warned by it. Even if you have already failed, though, you can look into Jesus’ face and remember he is praying for you. Repent, return and then share your experience with others who are being sifted.