“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”
The term “sifting” is an agricultural one and its meaning is based on the knowledge of how grain is threshed. A sieve was used to separate the kernels of grain from the trash and junk they had mingled with in the threshing: pebbles, twigs, etc. The sieve would allow the farmer to sift the useful kernels into a sack. The farmer would have to shake the sieve back and forth to complete this process.
When Jesus addressed Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon”. This repetition identifies an intimate and personal relationship Jesus had with Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to know something very important. Satan wanted to shake the disciples. Shortly, Peter and his fellow apostles would experience the unthinkable – the Man they believe to be the Messiah, the Son of God will be arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified in the space of less than 24 hours. Their own lives will be at risk, and their loss will be utterly devastating.
But wait there’s more. In verse 32 Jesus says, “But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” In other words, Jesus wanted Peter to know that He had prayed for him because out of all of the disciples, Peter would be in the most danger. Jesus prays for Peter because He knows that Peter is the natural leader of the disciples. Peter is the key. Jesus knew that his faith would fall apart. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. Jesus prayed for Peter so that when he had come through the trial, he was to strengthen others.
The enemy knows all about you. He watches you and will use whatever you do and say against you. The enemy wants to shake you up. He wants to sift you. The sole purpose of the enemy is to keep those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior away from ever making that choice. And to those who call Jesus Lord and Savior, the enemy distracts, discourages, and places stumbling blocks in their paths. He will do anything and everything he can to keep you from demonstrating the love of Jesus and that Jesus lives in your heart. He seeks to exploit our weaknesses in order to deflect them from obedience to God. When believers experience difficult days, some fall away, while others gradually get their bearing and recover, and usually become stronger.
Friend, when we are sifted there is a time of weakness. Sometimes, a time of extreme weakness when we feel we can’t even breathe. But there is recovery; there is healing; there is restoration; there is hope. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:19 NKJV) God bestows help and strength sufficient for every occasion and need. We, too, can come to the Lord in prayer that our faith will not fail when we face the sifting of the enemy. We can pray for others, that God would increase their faith as well. For believers, the ability to face the future with confidence is possible because of our knowledge of God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV) Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen to rescue us or restore us. Hope is a sure, confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His presence in our situation. Confidence comes with an intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and the study of God’s Word. As we walk through difficult times, God will use us to encourage and lead others through the same thing.
Holy and Almighty God, thank You that You give us hope when we face the sifting of the enemy. That we can call upon Your Name and You will restore us, renew us, and strengthen us. Lord, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy. But You Lord give us life. Thank You, Lord. Use us to encourage others who may face the same trials we do. Help us to see that our peace comes from You when we trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN
Don’t believe me, believe God!