LUKE 22:32 NIV | "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
This was the last Passover meal that Jesus would share with his disciples. It was the weekend of the crucifixion, and he spoke frankly about his upcoming death. The disciples had heard this before but were still in disbelief, unable to imagine the future without the Master. And none was more vocal than impetuous, passionate Simon Peter. It was Simon who gave the bold proclamation that the other disciples hoped was true: “You are Christ, the Messiah.” Jesus announced that this was God’s revelation and gave Simon a new name: Peter, the rock. Simon Peter vacillated between his two names, but he would grow into his new name.
In this account, Jesus comes not as rabbi or teacher but as intercessor. The gospels are full of references to the prayer life of our Savior, but in this passage, we see Jesus acting in his priestly role as the Mediator. Hebrews 7:25 reveals that Jesus always lives to intercede for his followers. In this emotional account of the Last Supper, Jesus addresses Simon, but his promise is to all disciples in every century: “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith might not fail.”
Satan’s strategy is the same throughout the ages — to cast doubt on the faithfulness and goodness of God. Nowhere is our faith more tested than in seasons of loss. Loss is the site of much of Satan’s sifting, tempting us to doubt God’s goodness and question his ways.
I am in the enemy’s target right now. After 20 years of tolerating life with an unwelcome occupant — multiple sclerosis — my prognosis has shifted to a more progressive form. For the first ten years, I found this disease unpleasant, annoying, and sometimes scary but still manageable. The second ten years have been life-altering. I no longer teach or play piano, write music, or lead worship. I do not walk and seldom drive. Fatigue is my constant companion. These have been difficult losses to process. At times, I find myself living in the regret expressed in Ecclesiastes 7:10: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.’”
But Jesus has prayed for me, that my faith might not fail. He has changed the question from “Why?” to “For what purpose?” The Savior’s prayer over Simon Peter was a prayer for his future calling. When his faith was restored, he would have the capacity to strengthen and encourage his brothers by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I see a similar pattern emerging for me. No longer able to walk, I am homebound most of the time, planted in my rocker with my laptop close at hand. This is my mission base as I send out notes, prayers, and scriptures over the web and expect God to speak through me in phone calls. Disability has not slowed the work of the Holy Spirit. He will use me, in my rocking chair, with the phone in reach and a computer on my lap.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- Do you have losses and limitations that “interrupt” your life and ministry?
- How has the Lord helped you process this season?
- Take a moment to thank Jesus for calling you and using you in his Kingdom plan, just the way you are.
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Kennemer and her husband, Rex, have been with CRM since 1986. They are advocates for mental health and partner with professionals in the mental health community to fight against the stigma of mental illness and recognize the need for collaboration between faith communities and government agencies. They live in San Diego with their beloved labrador, Nadine.