Broken and Restored
One of my graduates from years ago, an active youth minister in a local church, called me up not too long ago with a probing issue. Facts had surfaced that his wife was having an affair. The couple had sought counseling to no avail. They were in the process of divorcing. His questions centered around his viability for continued ministry. Was he invalidated for ministry because of the divorce? With much grace, I assured him that he was not, but this would be a difficult road for him, given the reality of church-related ministry.
My counsel to this former student and friend was centered around the fact that he could minister in a most unique way through his brokenness. His brokenness over his impending divorce and all of the emotions that went with it positioned him for unique ministry to broken people walking through divorce or similar situations. He was puzzled at first, but then saw some great ideas for potential ministry: a broken individual could be restored and minister God’s grace to someone struggling with brokenness.
Or imagine this: a man claims that he doesn’t even know his best friend and mentor. Categorically denies ever having contact with him. In essence, he denies that the mentor and friend ever existed. How must the mentor feel? Especially since he was present when his friend denied knowing him.
Fictitious story? Not at all. This is the story of Peter's denial of Jesus.
Peter, the brave and impetuous disciple who, in a fit of male bravado, had once claimed eternal loyalty to Jesus, now actually denied knowing him. The Gospels record that when Jesus looked at Peter in that moment of denial that Peter was broken and shattered. This once bold disciple was reduced to fleeing the scene in disgrace.
Have you ever felt like Peter, useless after a betrayal or failure? Or have you felt like the student above, broken by the betrayal or disappointment caused by someone else?
Thankfully, the story of Peter doesn’t stop with his denial of Jesus. Later in the Gospels, we find that Jesus restored Peter three times for the three times that Peter denied him. In fact, Jesus’ restoration of Peter extended to Peter’s ministry as a disciple. We read in Acts 2 that Peter preached a powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost, filled by the Holy Spirit, where over 3,000 people came to know Jesus. Quite the ministry restoration. Peter ministered out of his brokenness.
How can we minister out of our brokenness?
First, we can remember that Jesus is in the business of using our broken lives to touch others. We read in Paul’s Letter to the Church at Corinth that we go through trials to help those going through trials themselves. We live that out by walking hand in hand with those who are suffering while we ourselves are in the midst of brokenness.
Second, Jesus displayed a long-term commitment to Peter’s restoration, even in brokenness. We live in a sinful, fallen world. Brokenness takes time to heal. Are we committed to walking with broken coworkers or family members for the long haul? What are the limits to our care for others when we ourselves are broken?
Third, success in our work is a result of God’s graciousness and an act of his Spirit. Peter could take absolutely no credit for the people that came to know Christ at Pentecost. He was broken. This harkens back to the Apostle Paul’s claim that “His strength is made perfect through weakness.” People who don’t view themselves as broken or weak will rely on intellect, physical prowess, wealth, etc. instead of relying on the Spirit’s power.