And the Lord said, *"Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Luke 22:31,32
These verses are fairly clear. The Lord is telling Simon that Satan desires to sift him like wheat. Notice that the Lord does not say, No, I will protect you from that process, but rather that He has prayed for him, that his faith should not fail, and when he returned, to strengthen his brethren.
**(31) By calling him Simon instead of Peter ("Rock"), Jesus may be implying that the disciple will soon act in accord with his old nature, which is one of human weakness. This word was given to Simon Peter when Jesus told him that he would deny knowing Him at the time of his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. (32) The you is plural, signifying that others would also experience testing. Jesus prayed for all His disciples (see John 17:6-19) He knows beforehand of Peterís denial and subsequent repentance, and therefore urges him to encourage the others in their own testing.
What I would like for us to examine and meditate on in these verses is this. Although Jesus knew Satan had asked for Peter, to sift him as wheat, He did not deny Satan this process. Instead of denying Satan that operation, Christ instead prayed for him, that his strength should not fail, and his faith would remain sufficient.
Letís now examine the sifting process and what it accomplishes. We have all most likely seen clips of someone panning for gold. The method would involve taking a pan, and dipping it into a stream, then transferring what had been collected to a screening unit, where they would then begin the sifting procedure. The dirt, sand, and small articles would pass through the screen, until only the larger items were left. These were then examined to determine if there was anything of value, or worth. What was not useful, or worthy would then be discarded. There may be large rocks that are only fools gold, that might need a close examination to detect the false from the genuine article. There may be broken bits of glass and debris that are of no use, so those were done away with. The operation allowed the miner to get rid of the junk, in order to closely examine the larger items that were left.
In our Christian walks, and lives, we may sometimes also go through that sifting procedure as well. Things may accumulate that may not be of any real value or worth to us, and so we must be put through a process that slowly eliminates those items. Little things may be easier to shed, and pass easily through the screening operation, without causing a great deal of pain, but once those have been discarded, we are only left with the big pieces, and these are the items that must be carefully examined to see if there is any real worth in them. Once the sifting process begins, and the painstaking examination is underway, it can become difficult. However, the only way to find out if there is real gold or silver buried underneath, is to get rid of the dirt, and the debris that may be cluttering up that space.
In my Christian walk of late, I have been undergoing a sifting process. It has hurt, I will testify to that. In this, I have even felt as if God had turned a deaf ear. I began questioning my own faith. Was it me that was the problem? Was my faith just not enough? Where was God in any of this anyhow? I simply did not understand why it seemed as if when I needed Him the most, He seemed so far away.
Yet when I read these verses, and Jesus telling Peter that although Satan has asked for him to sift as wheat, and he was not denied, I also read that Jesus was praying for him, that his faith SHOULD NOT FAIL. Imagine that. Jesus prayed for Peter, and you know what, Jesus has been praying for me. Out of all the people in the world, and all the needs, Jesus took time today to pray for Me. He has allowed me to undergo the things I have undergone that my Faith should not fail. And He Prayed for Me.
Seen in that light, that Jesus allowed what I have been living through for a reason, to get rid of the clutter, to get rid of the junk, the accumulated dirt and debris, to uncover the gold that lies within, the sifting hasnít been necessarily a bad thing.
As in the story in Daniel, Chapter 3, of Godís servants, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that were cast into the fiery furnace and had not a hair on their head harmed, for the Son of God walked with them, I too will come out unscathed.
As I reflect on these verses, and I realize that although Peter did give in to his human weaknesses in denying Christ, I also realize that through Christís prayers, that his faith would not fail, Peter was also whom Christ later used to begin building His church. (Matthew 16 vs. 17)
Through Christís prayer for him, that he would not lose his faith, but should also encourage others, and through his receptivity and readiness to hear God through the work of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached the sermon on Pentecost, and on that very day, over 3,000 souls were added to them, and through the continuance of being in one accord, many more were added. (see Acts 2:14-47 for Peterís sermon)
To truly be used for the Kingdom of God, one must sometimes endure hurtful things in order to become a trustworthy servant. However, know that just as Christ prayed for Peter, when these things come against you, when the refining fire is burning hot, and it seems as if you can not stand, that Christ walks with you, He will lead you through unscathed. Not even your garments will have the smell of fire upon them. Your name is on His lips, He is praying that your faith will not fail. God thought about You today, and His thoughts were pure.
*all Scriptural references were taken from the NKJV of the Spirit Filled Life Bible published by Thomas Nelson.
**taken from study notes NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson.