“Love divine has seen and counted every tear it caused to fall; and the storm which Love appointed was it choicest gift of all. “
A short ten days ago there was a foot of snow on the ground and it was negative fifteen degrees. Tomorrow the high is to be seventy-seven and except for a few remaining small dirty piles, the snow is gone. Spring came just like that; change can happen fast and be dramatic.
The darkest time of day is just before the dawn. It seems to me the month of February is similar, oftentimes it is the coldest and harshest time of the year, right before spring. Just as the sun rises faithfully each and every day, spring arrives faithfully each and every year. Just when we thought we were doomed to cold gloomy weather for all of eternity, suddenly, it is sunny and forty-five, and just like that winter is over.
Spring brings hope for better days, when we least expect it.
Jesus Christ brings hope for better days when we least expect it.
It had to have been that way for Simon Peter. Mere hours before at the Last Supper, Jesus had warned him Satan was after him and had asked to test him, to sift him like wheat. That doesn’t sound good. Jesus reassured Peter that he had prayed for him that his faith would not fail and that he would turn back and be a refuge to his fellow believers. Peter couldn’t believe what he was hearing! He told Jesus he was ready to do time behind bars or die for him! Jesus, being God in the flesh knew how it would go and told Peter the truth he didn’t want to hear, that he would deny knowing Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times before the rooster would crow.
Fast forward to the third denial, the rooster crows and Jesus turns and looks directly at Peter. Peter instantly knew he had failed Jesus. It had to be the lowest point of his life. He wept bitterly. Can’t you see the scene in your minds eye? Peter was caught in a trap he couldn’t spring, hopeless, lost and alone in his pain. This is last Luke tells us about Peter until after the resurrection which means he wasn’t there for Jesus during the trial, the whipping, the crucifixion or at his death. The next time we meet up with Peter is Easter morning. He must have holed up somewhere in self pity and pain. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Luke 22:59-62 (NIV)
Boy does that sound familiar.
There have been times in my life that seemed as though I had layer upon layer of trouble and that it would never end. Sometimes the pain was a consequence of my own behavior and other times the pain was due to circumstances beyond my control. Either way, there I was, teetering on the edge of darkness, thinking that my life would always be like this. It looked as though there was no way out or through, no end in sight and there was no hope. In the midst of pain and pity I too have denied and abandoned Jesus; and although he has looked straight at me he has not abandoned or denied knowing me and I have wept bitterly at this realization. I have learned some hard truths when the dawn arrived:
1) Satan is after me and I will have trouble, he has asked to sift me like wheat.
2) That Jesus is praying for my faith not to fail and that I turn back to Him;
3) I am not alone. Ever.
4) Nothing lasts for ever; so much depends on my attitude and my fortitude.
5) That if I am willing, God will take my worst moments and use them for good.
The next time we meet up with Peter is that first Easter morning; the women have gone to the tomb to take care of a dead body and not only do they discover the stone is rolled away and the tomb empty, but they come face to face with an angel, a messenger of God, who reminds them what Jesus had told them before he died. He told them that he would be given over to evil men to be crucified; he would die and be buried and that on third day he would rise again. The women race back to where the disciples are hiding out and everyone thinks what they are saying is baloney, everyone except Peter that is. Jesus had prayed that his faith would not fail and it didn’t. From coward to courageous leader I am able to recount this story today because Peter didn’t throw in the towel in his darkest hour. How many times did I cave in to fear- False Evidence Appearing Real-? How many times have I forgotten the rest of the story, Jesus is praying for me and I missed out on the reward as a result of giving up too soon? When I gave up on a relationship because it seemed impossible? Dropped out of school just before I got that degree? Gave up on a child, spouse, relative or friend who seemed too lost to save? Gave up on my dreams because of unexpected twists and turns in the road of life or because it just seemed too crazy or I was just too lazy to pursue it? Way too many times I am sorry to report.
Like the arrival of spring, our delivery from darkness can happen fast and be dramatic if we don’t let our faith fail. The reward of seeing the darkness through is the beauty of experiencing the rising of the Son and new life in him which is unlike anything you have ever known. Remember, Jesus is praying for you and it is darkest just before the dawn.
Be joy filled always,