We fail. It is part of being human.
We fear it. We try to avoid it. Yet, we still do it.
In Advent, we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ and anticipate His second coming. But truth be told, Jesus continually comes into our lives, especially around failure.
When he went out fishing, Peter couldn’t have known that he and his brother would meet Jesus. Peter couldn’t have known he would be the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Peter also couldn’t have known that he would fail Jesus.
Despite his bold pronouncements, fear gripped Peter when he faced pressure; just as it has gripped me, just as it has gripped you. Peter denounced Jesus…three times. After all that Peter had seen and heard and felt from years at Jesus’ side, one can only imagine the shame that may have overcome him. What bitter, inner dialogue may have arisen? What emotional exhaustion may have ensued? That night – the night of betrayal – hope was snuffed out. When it mattered most, Peter disappointed Peter.
In that dark moment of disgrace, Peter could not have known that grace awaited him. Only days later, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a resurrected Jesus reinstated Peter; not once, not twice, but three times.
And that restoration would have been enough. But Acts 2 records that Peter would go on to deliver one of the earliest messages about Christ, and some three thousand people would experience Jesus coming into their lives. Peter couldn’t have known that would happen.
Near the end of his life, Peter reflects on his own personal experience: “In His great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
We do not know how and when Jesus will come into our lives, but if Peter were counting down to this Christmas, he might remind us:
Failure is an imposter. It does not live up to its reputation. Failure is not as final as it seems. It need not sever relationships. In fact, it is an unlikely neighbor to grace. Failure can transform us deeply and positively. Our most severe disappointment can usher in our greatest development.
All of this can bring us hope. Because of Jesus’ advent, this is something we know.