Sitting in our family room at 10:00 in the morning, still in my pj’s while nesting down in the corner of our long beige sofa was not what you’d find me doing (ever) on a week day. Normally at that time, I’d be out and about shopping for clients, running a few homey errands, or with a friend grabbing a good hot cup of coffee while talking about whatever. But sitting indoors, no makeup, greasy hair, my husband’s pj bottoms and one of his white undershirts, well, it was only a small symptom of a much greater diagnosis. A spiritual diagnosis. A diagnosis that none of us ever see coming, but as a child of God who seeks to , it’s inevitable. The diagnosis was this –
““Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” Luke 22:31
Of course, this was the most personalized word from the Lord when I read this in January of this year, and all I heard was,
“Lisa, Lisa, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.”
First, I want you to know something. Satan must go to God for permission before he can trouble the lives of God’s children. But what was the process of sifting wheat in biblical times? According to below article, sifting wheat is a two step process: The first is manual threshing, and the second is winnowing.
Threshing: The first step in the process of sifting wheat is to loosen the chaff from the edible grain, which is called threshing. The old fashioned way to do this is to spread the wheat onto a floor made from stone, concrete, or tamped earth, and to beat it with a flail.
Winnowing: The next step is called winnowing, where the loosened chaff is removed from the grain. The old fashioned way of doing this was to throw the grain in the air, the lighter chaff would be blown off by even a decent breeze. The heavier grains would fall back to the ground below where they were thrown. From: How Do Farmers Sift Wheat? | eHow.com
What does Satan aim to do?
What does “sifting like wheat” refer to in real life? The best clue comes in the next sentence where Jesus says, “But I prayed for you that your faith fail not.” Satan aims to sift Simon (and you and me) like wheat. Jesus aims to keep Simon’s faith from failing. So probably “sifting like wheat” means doing something to make the disciples’ faith fail.
We can imagine a picture like this: Satan has a big sieve with jagged-edged wires forming a mesh with holes shaped like faithless men and women. What he aims to do is throw people into this sieve and shake them around over these jagged edges until they are so torn and weak and desperate that they let go of their faith and fall through the sieve as faithless people, right into Satan’s company. Faith cannot fall through the mesh. It’s the wrong shape. And so as long as the disciples hold to their faith, trusting the power and goodness of God for their hope, then they will not fall through the mesh into Satan’s hands.
Therefore the sifting of Simon Peter and the others is Satan’s effort to destroy their faith. And this remains Satan’s main goal today. It is relatively unimportant to Satan whether we are healthy or sick, rich or poor; what he wants is to sift out our faith. If he can do it by suffering, he will try that; if he can do it by wealth, he will try that. Peter learned a good lesson that night. Some 30 years later he wrote in 1 Peter 5:8, 9: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him firm in your faith.” Jesus pictured Satan as a farmer shaking Christians in his sieve, trying to tear them apart from their faith. Peter pictures Satan as a lion who can devour anything but faith. The only person that can fit through Satan’s sieve is an unbeliever. The only thing that will fit down the lion’s throat is an unbeliever. This is the victory that overcomes Satan’s sieve and Satan’s throat, our faith (1 John 5:4). If we hold it fast to the end, Satan cannot destroy us.
It is a great encouragement to know that God is always stronger than Satan, and that by faith in him we can avoid Satan’s destruction and gain a crown of life. But the scripture in Luke is not yet done; God’s word of hope goes farther. We need for our daily struggles some encouragement that in a time of suffering and weakness we will not abandon the faith. And Jesus gives us that encouragement and reassurance in verse 32.
Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.It is encouraging to know that God is infinitely stronger than Satan. But it is doubly encouraging, doubly hopeful, that Jesus Christ and God the Father do not stand back and watch to see if we will have the strength to endure in faith. In fact, I am sure that if the Holy Trinity were not busy day and night strengthening my faith, it would evaporate in a New York minute. Notice Jesus prays to his Father for Simon (now the word “you” is singular in verse 32: I prayed for “you,” that is, Simon). He asks God to do what needs to be done in order to preserve Simon from destruction.
That is what He told me in January – “I prayed for you, Lisa.”
And Jesus is completely confident that his Father will answer his prayer, because he says, “And when you have turned, strengthen your brothers.” The Father granted Satan the power to sift Simon, but, in response to Jesus’ prayer, he did not let Simon fall through the sieve. Nor will he ever let any of his children fall through Satan’s sieve. Here is the double weapon of hope and encouragement that he gives us: not only is God willing and supremely able to save all of us who trust him; He also works with the Son to keep us trusting to the end. We are not left without a shield against the enemy, nor are we left to hold this shield of faith merely by our own strength. God will always see to it that faith has the victory and that his children have faith.
But there is one last thing I want you to see in the text. This is not to lay a burden on you, but only to increase your joy. The joy we have in the promises of God is always doubled when it bubbles up over the brim of our life and spill over onto others. What about the other ten apostles (not counting Judas)? Satan was going to sift them too. (Remember, the first time Jesus said, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat” was a plural “you” – a “you” that addressed the disciples.) Did Jesus pray for them? Yes he did. But he did not ask the Father to guard their faith in the very same way he guarded Peter’s. God turned him around and forgave him and restored him and strengthened his faith. And now it was Peter’s mission to strengthen the other ten. The strengthened becomes the strengthener.
There is a great lesson here for us. Sometimes God will deal with you directly, strengthening your faith alone in the wee hours of the morning while sitting on your sofa. But most of the time God strengthens our faith through another person. God sends us some Simon Peter who brings just the word of grace we need to keep on in the faith: some testimony about how “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). *John Piper
For me, personally, from January – July, it was Dr. Tony Evans who was my ‘another person.’ DAILY, and I do mean 7 days a week, Dr. Evans’ messages were lined up and delivered (by the Holy Spirit of God) in YouTube just for me to watch and receive for THAT day – the Word of God for this one purpose, to strengthen my faith. If you are not familiar with Dr. Evans, here is a link to his ministry page.
Be encouraged friend…know that your Father loves you and is with you in every step of your life, and no matter what, He will never leave you!
How Deeply Loved You Are,