And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Luke 22:31 (NKJV)
You know you are going to have a bad day when Jesus says this to you.
Have you ever had a day like this where the deck is stacked against you? No matter how hard you try, it won’t be good enough? Even when you do everything right, life turns out wrong? How do you defend yourself against larger forces at work around you?
Satan asked permission from God to drag Simon Peter through the wringer. Simon was about to be buffeted and thrown about in a way that he had never experienced before. If I were in Simon’s shoes, my first thought would be that God should just say, “No,” but this is not what happened. For some reason, God approved Satan’s request. My second thought would be “God, how do I trust you when you are OK with throwing me to the wolves?” These thoughts would lead me down a terrible path of doubt, feelings of betrayal, and bitterness.
But Jesus is not done. His declaration to Simon is not just a report of unavoidable trouble ahead. Jesus begins to encourage Simon by saying, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32 NKJV).
Simon may not be able to avoid the testing he is about to go through, but Jesus has not abandoned him, either. First, God has approved that Simon be sifted as wheat. The process of sifting separates the valuable grain from the worthless chaff. Sifting makes the wheat more precious – not less. God has not approved some senseless destruction. Second, Jesus has prayed for Simon. Who better to intercede for you than Jesus? Third, Jesus’ prayer is that Simon’s faith would not fail. Simon can hold onto that promise during the next few days as he passes through the difficult time ahead. Fourth, Jesus lets Simon know that, in the end, he and Jesus will be together again. Finally, Jesus says Simon will be able to effectively encourage and strengthen his friends through their struggles.
One piece of bad news. Five pieces of encouraging news. As we follow Jesus, we will go through times of sifting as well. We will have days when nothing seems to go right. We might be tempted to add misery to our troubles by believing the lies that God has abandoned or betrayed us. Nothing is further from the truth. While Satan is causing us trouble, God is working for our good. He is removing the chaff from our lives.
Prayer: Lord, I trust your ways. Though the devil comes to destroy, you are greater still. Bring me through the testing for your glory and honor and for my good. Amen.