But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)

STEVE HAD BEEN RAISED in a Christian home and professed a belief in Christ. However, his lifestyle conflicted with what he claimed to believe. He got involved with the wrong crowd, began doing drugs, and eventually was imprisoned for possessing cocaine. Through a prison Bible study, Steve came to a place of brokenness. He repented of his sin and committed to living in submission to Christ. After his release from the penitentiary, Steve used his experience to encourage other Christians who struggled with sin in their own lives.

Peter said he would follow the Lord even to death, but he failed. Jesus was not surprised by Peter’s denial, and why would He be? Peter did not yet have God’s Spirit dwelling within him. Jesus knew Peter would succumb to temptation if left to himself (just as you and I would).

He also knew what awaited Peter after Jesus’ ascension—the Comforter would come. And in God’s grace and with His power, Peter would “turn back to strengthen his brothers.” Soon after the Lord charged Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15–17), Jesus left so the Comforter would come. And sure enough, the apostle went on to live a life in the power of God’s Spirit, devoted in love to sharing the gospel and strengthening his brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Lord’s love sees far beyond our failures. God’s Spirit turned Steve away from his sin, and he came to really know Jesus. As he grew in his faith, he learned the same thing Peter had: we stumble on our own, independent of Christ, but we can never fall out of reach from His grace.

Consider how you might share your experience of God’s grace to strengthen someone else.

Nancy Reinke lives in Oregon with her artist husband. She enjoys writing, quilting, gardening, and encouraging others.