In the following two verses from Luke 22, our LORD is speaking to his disciple Simon Peter and warning him of impending trouble. Heads up Peter! You are about to be tested beyond anything you ever thought possible.
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Luke 22:31-32
I’d like to examine these verses a little closer to see just what is going on. First of all we see Jesus speaking to Simon Peter and using his given name twice. “Simon, Simon …” reveals to me the concern with which Jesus was about to reveal this message to his disciple. Jesus knew what was coming and His heart was moved with compassion.
Next Jesus says, “Satan has desired to have you, the he may sift you as wheat.” A closer look at the word “desired” reveals some insight into the enemy’s motivation. The word “desired” can also be translated “demanded”. Immediately I have a vision of Satan standing before the Throne of God and contending for God’s servant Job. Satan didn’t just desire to have Peter … he boldly demanded to have his way with him. His intention was to sift him as wheat! Now, I’m not a farmer but I do live in the country in a very agricultural county and I know enough about the sifting process to know that it refers to a separation of the wheat from the chaff. To make that analogy of a human being tested indicates to me a very painful process. What Simon Peter was about to endure would be an agonizing development. Of course, looking back to the story of Job in the Old Testament, we have the assurance of knowing that Satan can only go as far a God allows him. It is comforting to know that God places a hedge of thorns of protection around those that are His children and, try as he might, Satan cannot break through that hedge without the express permission of God, our Heavenly Father.
With that in mind, I’d like to be able to read the next verse and hear Jesus saying, “Don’t worry about a thing Simon! I told Satan, ‘nothing doing’. You are one of mine and you are off limits to him.” Oh how wonderful it would be if that were always the case. Some times it is … but not always. In reality Jesus said, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail …” Imagine, the God of the universe praying for you by name, knowing what you are about to endure at the enemy’s hand and assuring you that you will come through it victoriously! Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him, curse and swear and disallow he ever knew Him. But He also knew how it would all turn out! Peter’s faith would not fail!
Jesus then says to Peter, “When you are converted, strengthen your brothers.” To be converted means to be changed. Anyone who goes through deep waters, anyone who survives the storms of life, anyone who has been sifted like wheat by the devices of the enemy will be changed! You will come through it … but you will arrive on the other shore a changed person! You will not be the same person you were when you went into it. Trials and tribulations change us! Some for better; some for worse. You will either become better or you will become bitter. You will either be drawn closer to God or it will drive a wedge between you and your Creator. Which way it goes depends entirely on our attitude and choices we make in the trial, but it is certain that you will not come out of it the same way you went into it. You will be changed! Simon Peter was a changed man and he was changed for the better. Jesus instructed him to use what he learned in his storm to strengthen and encourage his brothers.
This is why I take it as a personal commission to share my story with others and in so doing to strengthen and encourage my brothers and sisters with what God has taught me through it all. I don’t have all the answers as to why God allows suffering and affliction to come into the lives of His children but I do have some insight. In my next BLOG I will share some of my own experience with you. It’s a painful story to tell but I have shared it innumerable times as I have been ministering at large. And the end result is that it has been inspiring to others who have been asking God, “Why?” Remember, even Jesus in His darkest hour as He hung upon the Cross asked, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”