But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Relate: The future looked bleak for Michael. He had a slowly deteriorating condition called ankylosing spondylitis. That is pretty much a kind of arthritis of the spine. It creates a nagging back pain that never really goes away but instead becomes slowly, incrementally worse over time as the back bones begin to fuse together. A fusing spine, pain that would only continue to get worse and worse, a life of shuffling about wishing that it would just, finally end. He wasn’t there yet but that is what Michael had to look forward to.
Before things got so bad the family went on a vacation down in Guerrero Mexico. Michael decided it was time for a swim but when he jumped into the pool, it was not the cool refreshing water that he felt. A prick and then burning pain started on his thigh and spread up and down his leg. Michael quickly jumped out of the pool pulling off his shorts. By jumping into that pool, he had invaded the habitat of a bark scorpion and that little guy was a bit angry at the interference. His family rushed Michael to the hospital and fortunately, because there were so many of these little buggers running around, they had an antidote on hand. It saved his life, but it could not hasten or end the excruciating pain over the next thirty hours as poison worked its way out of his bloodstream. Funny thing is, from that moment on, his spinal arthritis was gone. Michael had unwittingly endured a short term pain to receive a long term cure.
React: Peter, the follower of Jesus, wasn’t quite ready to be the Peter, the Rock, that would lead the church. After all the rebukes, after three years with Jesus, he still had not yet learned humility. He still had to endure one more night of shame and failure before he was truly positioned to become all that Jesus saw in, and called forth out of him. In the same way, Israel wasn’t ready for the promised land. After scouting out the land, most of the scouts returned to say, “The enemy is too big, we can’t do this.” Caleb replied, “Our God is bigger. He can do it.” But nobody listened. Peter and Israel still needed a heavy dose of another hard lesson.
Sometimes the trouble we might be going through is actually a good thing. Sometimes God is giving us a short term hard lesson for our long term healing. Sometimes we need to wander around in barrenness for a few weeks, perhaps a few decades, so that we will be properly positioned to handle the prosperity God has in store for us. Maybe we have yet to learn the humility or trust God wants us to develop. Maybe there’s another virtue He needs to work into our lives. If you are anything like me, we need those hard lessons. They are the only ones that seem to stick.
Help me to be mindful that at every point in my life there is more for me to learn of You. If a hard lesson is the only way for You to make me into what You desire, bring it on. Give me the patience and endurance to go through. Don’t let me grow bitter through trials but instead help me to ever cling tighter and tighter to You.