After winning the Masters in 1997, a pro golfer decided to change his swing, a decision that baffled golf experts. He wouldn’t win a major tournament for 2 years, but he eventually reestablished himself as the number one golfer in the world. The competitor asserted that unlearning his old swing was crucial, for he needed to get rid of bad habits in order to become a better golfer.
Early on, the apostle Peter often exhibited pride, seeking to prove that he was more faithful than the other disciples. Nothing captures this hubris more perfectly than when Peter dared to rebuke Jesus for prophesying His own death (Mark 8:31-33). A man has to be pretty confident to rebuke the Messiah! But all of Peter’s confidence fell apart on Good Friday, when he didn’t stand with Jesus after being questioned by three people—two of them who were servant girls (Matthew 26:69-75).
But far from being a catastrophe, this was actually an important step in Peter’s becoming the disciple he was supposed to be. Peter had to unlearn all his bad habits and lose his confidence in himself so that he could gain full confidence in Christ instead. And the transformation was dramatic—in the Gospels, Peter wept because he failed to speak up for Jesus (Matthew 26:75). But in the book of Acts, Peter testified before thousands, and even before the Sanhedrin—religious leaders who were responsible for Jesus’ death! (Acts 4:1-14, 5:17-29).
Not all setbacks are negative, not in the economy and wisdom of God. Sometimes what seem like catastrophes to us are part of the process of sanctification, in which our bad habits and sinful strongholds are being dismantled so that we can become the children of God we were meant to be!
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Job 2:1-13
Read Acts 9:1-19 to see another example of God breaking down someone so that he could be built up into something more.
What might God be accomplishing in your life through a recent difficult experience? What bad habit or stronghold has prevented you from being the disciple God wants you to be?