“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers ” —Luke 22:31,32
Imagine the thoughts going through Simon Peters mind. The enemy of your soul demands to have you and sift you like wheat!
I imagine Peter considered this deeply as visions of wheat preparation passed through his mind. Imagine him, as he sees a young girl throw wheat into the air and catches it again in a woven basket. The wind catches and carries away the wheat that is called chaff. It is light, airy – lacking substance and is easily separated with a good breeze.
We must understand the importance of the sifting Peter went through, for we all face the same sifting. Consider this definition of sifting. To “sift” means to harass till nothing but chaff remains.
Nothing soft or gentle about harassment!
When we are sifted we are literally “tossed about” to determine what, within our spirit and character, is valuable or useful to the Lord. Just as the wind separates good kernels of grain from useless husks in the sifting process, so temptation to sin and opportunities to serve God each act to prove the true nature of every individual.
Can you not feel Peter's heart constrict as he realizes the implications of Jesus' words? Would the outcome of his sifting result in a faith that lacked substance? No! It could not be! Humiliation, disbelief, and fear no doubt welled up within him. Peter loved Jesus! Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” How pained his heart must have been to hear the following words from his teacher and savior:
“I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
What was Peter going to do...call Jesus a liar?
‘Simon declares to his Lord Jesus, in essence, “I will NEVER deny you!” Today we might say, “Lord, regardless of what happens in my life – I wont blame you! Even when bad things happen or you remain silent I WILL NEVER DOUBT YOUR LOVE FOR ME.” Hmm. Does it sound all too familiar?
Yet, how many believers in Jesus Christ walk in the footprints of Simon when our boldness and confidence flees in the face of tossing and shaking? When bad things happen do we blame God, or praise him? Do we doubt his faithfulness to us when his timing does not match our own? Can you hear the tornado-like winds howling?
Jesus allowed and regulated Satan to sift Simon Peter for his own good. Satan wanted to sift so NO wheat would remain to take out whatever was good. But Christ’s desire was that no CHAFF would remain. As Peter's Savior, Jesus could see into the heart of Peter and identify the elements that could lead to his downfall and destruction. Was it pride, self-assurance, self-reliance? These elements and others could weaken and destroy the stability of the rock upon which Christ was to build his church. As it was with Simon Peter, so it is with us.
The sifting is allowed to discover the weaknesses that would compromise an otherwise solid faith. Even our strong points can become our weak points, as we are more apt to ignore guarding where our strengths lie and give more attention to our obvious weaknesses! Passion becomes headstrong; independence becomes self-reliance; protectiveness can make us shortsighted.
The turbulent shaking was also needed for the strengthening of others. There was Christ’s' admonition… “ And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers ” …
In this life we face many troubles. Those things that the enemy meant for our destruction can be used for the good of the building up of our brothers and sisters in their faith. In the face of the wind and turbulence what will be discovered? In the refining do we come up as Peter or Simon? Are we wheat or chaff? Faithful or faithless? Are we cursing God or praising Him?
We can take heart at Jesus' promise to Simon as he said, “But I have prayed for thee.”
In essence, Jesus encourages Simon saying...”The shaking will come! The wind will blow. Satan, the hater of your soul and destroyer of your peace has asked to sift you like wheat. But fear not! I HAVE ALREADY PRAYED FOR YOU...THAT YOU MIGHT SURVIVE THE SIFTING!” What joy should fill our souls to know that Jesus is doing the same for us!
So sure was Jesus of the outcome that he said to Simon, “WHEN” you are turned again.” Not “IF” but “WHEN”. Peter’s recovery was assured because Christ was certain of his own ability (more than he was convinced of Simon Peter's ability).
I John 4:4 further emphasizes where our strength comes from in saying, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”.
Many great men have undergone trials designed to mold them for service to the Lord. Job was a rich man and had much to lose. Through the loss of all of his material wealth and all of his children and the darkness and despair of grief God proved the tenaciousness of faith. David, a man after Gods own heart, raised up to be King – suffered the consequences of his own choices with Bathsheba and was laid low before he was made mighty in spirit. If David's sifting had not been successful we would not have the deep well of the Psalms from which we draw forth such sweet nectar!
Though painful and difficult we must all learn to embrace the sifting when it comes. For it is through these often-turbulent times – times of pain, loss, breaking and humiliation – that God perfects His children and moves us ever closer to glory. So when the ground beneath you quakes and the waters rise, remember Job's declaration of trust and hope in God as we too can sing with Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." ~Job 19: 25-26
Dori Cass is a wife of 29 years and mom to two adult children. She has spent her adult life active in Womens, Children's and Youth ministry. She's been a writer since childhood and is now fulfilling her life's dream as she writes. She finds that she writes a lot about faith which are the nuggets mined up out of a decade long journey in the wilderness walking with a husband whose life changed completely when he was injured on the job as a police officer. You can find her blog at http://heavensconfetti.blogspot.com/