Did you know that our shortcomings and failures come as no surprise to God? David wrote in Psalm 139, "O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether" (verses 1–4 NKJV).
Maybe you have had a serious failure in your spiritual life recently. Maybe it has been a moral failure. Maybe you have failed your spouse, children, co-workers, or others who were looking to you. Maybe you have fallen and wonder if you ever can be forgiven.
Yet God can take our failures and turn them into successes. God can take losers and turn them into winners. We see this in the life of one follower of Jesus, whose name was Simon Peter.
It is worth noting how Simon got his new name, Peter. The disciples were with the Lord at a place called Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus turned to them and said, "Who do men say that I am?" Various ideas were thrown out. Then Simon, under the inspiration of God himself, said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16 NKJV).
This was a remarkable moment. Peter had been given supernatural insight. Jesus told him, "I am giving you a new name. From this moment on, your name is Peter, and on this rock I will build my church" (see Matthew 16:17–18).
I wonder what the other disciples thought when Jesus gave Simon this new name. "Rock? Is He on the level? Is this for real? You are calling him Rock?" After all, when you think of a rock, you think of something that is solid. A rock is dependable. It is immovable. But Simon was hotheaded. He was impulsive. He was impetuous. To call Simon a rock almost seemed laughable.
This goes to show that God not only sees you for what you are, but also sees you for what you can become. He sees your potential. We might see a blank canvas, but God sees a finished painting. We see problems, but God sees solutions. We see failures, but God sees successes. We see a Simon, but God sees a rock. In the same way, He sees you for what you can become.
Before Peter fully lived up to this new name, he had a serious lapse. He experienced a fall that was both notable and dramatic. You'll find the Gospel accounts of it in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18. Yes, Peter fell. Yes, he had a lapse. But it was a temporary one. Later, in his own epistle, Peter wrote, "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (1 Peter 5:10 NKJV).
Peter was saying, "I know what I am talking about here. I have gone through hardship. I want you to know that God will get you through it." In the same way, you have gone through certain experiences in life. It might have been a tragedy. It might have been a mistake you made. Maybe you've thought, "Why did the Lord let me go through these things? Why did God allow this to happen?" But God can take whatever you have experienced in life and use it so you can reach out to other people who might be going through the same kind of thing right now.
I could look back on my own childhood and say, "Lord, why did I have to be born into an alcoholic home? Why did I have to be in a home where my mom was married and divorced seven times?" When I look back at the lessons that I learned, I realize that God can use these things to help me reach out to and have compassion for people who are going through something similar.
Instead of being devastated by past failures or being upset with God as to why you went through certain things, how about allowing God to take those things you have experienced and turn them into great lessons that you can share with others? God gives second chances. That is what He did for Peter. And that is what He can do for you.