31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
I sometimes shutter a bit when I read this passage. Why? I don’t want to personally go through times of sifting. Yet, according to Jesus, Satan relishes the opportunity to sift God’s children. I’ve got enough problems without the devil piling on more difficulties. How about you? This is one of the reasons Jesus encourages all believers to pray to be “delivered from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)
Evidently, we need it. Jesus said a season of sifting was coming to Peter and no moves were being made by the Lord to stop it. I believe “siftings” are brief periods of time when God allows Satan to have his way in our lives. Permission must be given first before Satan is allowed to sift, test, tempt, and trouble God’s children.
Usually we never know what sifting will look like before it happens. Jesus only told Peter it was coming! But we learn from Peter’s life that sifting is usually connected with another problem in our life. Peter kept bragging about how he would never deny the Lord. In just a few short hours after his pledge of fidelity he denied the Lord three times. Satan’s sifting got to the heart of Peter’s real issues in just a few short hours. Yet, three years of being with Jesus didn’t cause him to look deeper. Hmmmm. Peter needed to go through the sifting process and as much as I hate to admit it…so do we!
Thankfully, according to Jesus we can survive it. John 21:15-17 tells us the rest of the story. Peter did survive and was brought back into the fold of the Lord. You too can survive whatever the sifting process brings your way. Whether you pass or fail, it is important that YOU know the truth about yourself. It is good to know that Jesus is praying for you and He will be there to help you write the next chapter in your life. Remember, you can’t have a testimony without a test.
In the end, the Lord wanted Peter to share with others in order to give them strength for their journey. We are to share what we have learned through our own sifting process as well. Satan wants us to stay in the muck and mire of our failures. Jesus wants us to get up, repent, and proclaim the faithfulness of God. It was Peter who preached the first major sermon after Pentecost in which thousands were brought into the Kingdom. Peter fed the sheep that day in power because he had been sifted by Satan and survived to tell about it.
How are you going to react the next time you go through your next season of sifting? You need it. You can survive it. You must be willing to share it. The question is not “if siftings will come“, but “when the siftings come” what will be your reaction? Many simply have grown hard and bitter. Listen, the Lord doesn’t want you to stay in that place. Allow the Lord to bring you back into the fold. We all have been in those places. Choose instead to learn and grow from the trials of life like Peter. As someone once said, “It is not how you start the race, but how you finish that makes the difference.” Choose instead to finish and finish strong.