In Luke 22:31 Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, indeed Satan has asked for you that he may sift you like wheat,” Satan had to ask for permission. “But I have prayed for you…” we have an advocate in Jesus! He is always praying for us. “…that your faith would not fail”, Jesus didn’t pray that Simon wouldn’t fail but rather that his faith would not fail. Jesus knew that Simon would fail Him, not just once but three times! But He also knew He would work it for his good as later Peter would become a pillar in the church. “…and when you return to me, go and encourage the brethren,” our sifting is never in vain! God allows sifting so we can mutually encourage one another in our faith. It makes us God sufficient, not self sufficient so we can encourage others in their faith.
In Job 1:20 we see Job’s response to receiving horrific news, not just once but four times, one immediately preceding the other. His world had crashed in on him and yet scripture tells us his first response was, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship…” This was pre Holy Spirit! In the moment of his most dyer pain he chose to worship the Lord. What a powerful testament to us. When lightening strikes in our life, is our initial response to fall on our knees in worship of the One true, living God? Or do we allow anger and self reliance to reign?
I once heard a missionary talking about her time serving in communist countries. A woman once told her that the problem with us Americans is that we have so much heaven on earth that when suffering comes, we assume God is punishing us. In communist countries their perspective of suffering is very different; it’s just a part of daily life. But the beauty for the believer is that God is sovereign and will use it for their good and His glory. What a precious promise!!