"Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith would not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
When I look around today, it’s almost as if our entire world has drastically changed. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, fear is abundant, hopelessness is running rampant, and racism has become so horrendous that many are finally completely appalled by it, even though there are still those whose pride won't allow them to see it.
Is it possible that the Enemy has asked permission to sift us and God has said yes?
I think so.
The sifting of wheat is purposeful. Sifting removes all the useless junk. It gets rid of the unnecessary so the necessary can be all that is left. I think our world has needed this sifting for a long time.
We cry out with our mouths that we love God, yet we place many idols before Him. Our sporting events have taken His place, our jobs, our pride, our children, our finances—they’ve all squeezed Him out. And now, when tragedy hits, we ask, “Where are you, Lord? Why are you not doing anything?”
Perhaps, He’s where He’s been all the time, on His throne—waiting for us to remember Him. Perhaps in His grace instead of bailing us out, He's letting us learn and see the error of our ways.
When God allowed for this time of testing in Simon Peter, it was purposeful. The Enemy’s schemes to test us will never thwart God’s plan. Quite often what looks like a win for him is often a setup for a grand slam by God. This sifting was not going to ruin Simon Peter, in fact it was going to transform him—because while the sifting was taking place, the prayers of Jesus were being lifted up, and He had already declared that they would be effective.
While we're waiting and pleading for the rescue--is it possible that Jesus is also praying us through this sifting?
I think so.
Is it possible that God holds the victory on the other side of this? That’s not even a question—BUT, what is a question, is who will we be when we come out of this—a Simon, or a Peter? You see, when Simon was sifted like wheat, he had a lot of junk to be disposed of, and when it was all said and done, even despite some failures, he was ultimately found faithful. Simon entered into the sifting denying Jesus, but he exited the sifting as Peter, the unwavering rock, boldly declaring the mighty name of his Savior.
And when that sifting was over, Peter arose and found himself taking part in leading 3000 others to the Lord--I bet the enemy didn’t see that coming when he asked for the sifting process to take place! However, is this how we will be found after all of this? Will we come out strengthening our brothers, leading them to Jesus, or will we go right back to our old ways of denying the lordship of Christ in our lives while we settle for lesser things?
Sifting is about removing junk—removing all that is useless. Friends, my dear Christian friends, we’ve needed this for a long time. There is only One that deserves first place in our lives, and there are only a handful of things that matter on the other side of eternity—so why, oh why do we invest in so many things that will just burn up and waste away?
“Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Why do we so easily throw away people, but desperately cling to ignorance? Why do we trust fear more than we trust the God who created us? Why do we quiver at the threat of a virus, but yet stand pridefully and fearlessly in front of the God who reigns over it.
These days of 2020 have been long and hard--they are not fun times by any means, but we will make it through this. The question is, when we do--when this season of sifting is over, will we once again pick up our useless junk, our misguided thinking, our old ways, or will we finally begin to simply and yet boldly, love God and love others, ALL others as much as we love ourselves?
There's no doubt that through all of this the chaff will fall to the ground, but it's going to be up to us to leave it there. So how about it? What are you willing to leave behind? What are you willing to allow God to transform in you?
Oh, and Jesus, while the sifting is being done, please Lord, keep praying for us.