Being sifted like wheat
Peter the Apostle knew all about this, Luke records the warning, exhortation and encouragement of the exchange between both Jesus and Peter.
Luk 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
Luk 22:32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Luk 22:33 But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Luk 22:34 Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
We read here that Satan has asked to sift Peter, and Jesus has said that he will do so; we know that God has given Satan permission to do so. Have you ever watched wheat sifted? A normal sieve was round about 30 – 40 cm across with sides about 100 mm – 150mm high, and a fine mesh type bottom, some sieves were bigger made of a mesh type material, about the size of a blanket and took two people to operate.
What happens is that you put the harvested wheat with the stalk etc into it and throw it up and down, shaking it, tossing it, so that the wheat is separated from the rest of the plant, and ready for use, either for storage, sowing or grinding into flour. The sifting process is a much-needed process for the grain to be any use.
So we see here that Jesus is telling Peter and not only is he talking about Peter here, he is also talking in a plural sense meaning the rest of the disciples, that he and the other disciples are going to be sifted, to be thrown about, that they will be going through some tough times, but not to worry, he has prayed for Peter and the rest of the disciples and we see this happening in John 21:15-17.
So Jesus tells us that he has prayed their faith will not fail them, that they will turn back, and in doing so strengthen many, Peter of course argues against this saying not me, and yet Jesus says, it will be you as well, and this is how it will pan out, and so the story goes and we know that indeed all the disciples bar John deserted Jesus and after the resurrection Jesus also reinstates them all, especially Peter.
How often have we been in the shoes of Peter and the other disciples, our boldness and confidence fleeing from us, we being shaken and tossed and turned in our faith, maybe not quite walking away and totally deserting our Lord denying him like Peter did, none the less our faith and walk with the Lord has been through a bit of a shaking, perhaps we have been through a dark night or season of the soul, where we know our walk with the Lord is perhaps not OK, we find the going tough, to witness to others we lack the wisdom and boldness to do so, our prayer life lacks the dynamic it once had and we wonder in the deeper recesses of our inner being if we will ever recover that dynamic again, we go to pray and we get easily distracted, or we go through the motions, not enjoying our reading of the word, that is if we do read it, going through the motions of our prayer life, and if we do pray, we can’t wait for them to be over and done with, as if we are scoring points for being so dutiful.
Perhaps you don’t know what it is I’m talking about, then for you, perhaps the time will come for you to experience it, perhaps you have gone through that and come out the other side a bit worse and wiser for the experience, and perhaps you are in the middle of such an experience right at this very moment.
If this is you, and I am talking from personal, experience of this in having personally come through it myself, then I want to encourage you with,
1Co 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Just like Peter was sifted by satan, we to are liable to being sifted by satan in all his subtle and not so subtle ways, and just as Peter was told by Jesus that he would fail, he was also told that his faith would not totally fail him, that he would bounce back and strengthen others.
What ever it is we are facing right now at this very moment, God will not allow us to face more than what we bear and he will also provide a way out, under the shadow of his wings.
Father God, I lift us all up to you tonight, individuals families and friends. Lord I ask that those who are going through the trials of being sifted that you will strengthen them, help them to both know and to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that you are providing a way out for them, that you will deliver them from all the shaking of the evil one. For those who have come out of such an experience I ask that you will continue to help us to walk with you in joy, in peace, in strength, in the fullness of your spirit, and for those who have not yet been through the sifting process that indeed you will prepare them for such an event if it is to be your will for them to do so, I ask that none of us will ever fall away, to deny our Lord, that we will all grow from strength to strength, faith to faith, in the power of your spirit I ask that you will do this Jesus, shielding us from the power of the evil one.
Blessings all, craig