Peter is a classic example of a believer who failed and then got back up and enjoyed great success. Right before the crucifixion he denied Jesus three times (read the account in Mark 14:66-72). At a time when he had a great opportunity to honor Christ, he literally denied him. But after the resurrection, Peter had a one-on-one encounter with Jesus that breathed new life and energy into his ministry.
“After these things, Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself; Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael … and two others of His disciples were together” (John 21:1). Peter had experienced seeing the empty tomb of Jesus following the resurrection. And then he saw Jesus walk through walls, saw doubting Thomas become believing Thomas, and witnessed Jesus do many other signs (see John 20). Peter’s encounter with Jesus ended with Jesus saying to him, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). He was completely forgiven, restored, and driven to preach boldly.
Failure is a part of life. Everybody experiences it but not everyone gets up afterward. Always remember this, however; failure isn’t final until you quit. Retired American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton had a Christian upbringing but, by his own testimony, he let God go from his life. In answer to much prayer, he had a resurgence of faith and a renewed relationship with Christ. He speaks of failure in this way: “I calculated once how many times I fell during my skating career. It was 41,600 times. But I got up 41,600 times!” That is exactly what we all must do when we fall: get up!
David says, “The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24, TLB). Solomon says, “Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Proverbs 24:16, NIV).
As a believer, God consistently sees you as righteous — on your good days and on your falling days. The most important thing is that you are born again into his family and have a trust relationship with your Father, who lovingly holds you.
Pastor Tim pastored an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years before serving at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years. He and his wife Cindy presently pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana.