You may be experiencing a recent loss, a difficult diagnosis, or the end of a relationship that once was your lifeline. Or, you may feel battered and broken about a goal that now seems impossible and unfeasible. You may be watching loved ones suffer.
In this abusive world we have much that can make us feel battered and broken. But how can we feel blessed while being tossed about?
Luke 22 has the answer.
Jesus in Luke 22 was speaking to Simon (also known as Peter) – you know, the one who was outspoken in denial at Jesus’ warning that he would soon be in the sifter.
- The Lord told Simon to get ready for a huge trial. Only the Almighty can give permission for his children to be put through the sifter. We don’t often get a warning, but when we do we need to sit up and take notice.
Whatever is happening, can only happen with God’s permission, and when God allows it, it is for a specific outcome.
The sifter takes many forms of oppression, varying degrees of creeping doubt, pain, accusation, false guilt, and common denominators like battering and bruising of the spirit and tears.
A wheat sifter in Bible times was usually a basket. The grain was placed in the basket and tossed side to side by shaking the basket. This was done to separate the wheat from the chaff. The wheat would be battered, but wheat (like gold) is heavier than chaff and settles, broken, falling though the tiny holes in the bottom of the basket. What was sifted out (the chaff) was destroyed.
- Christ told Simon he would return to Him after sifting (He understood the sifting of Simon Peter would drag him from Christ’s presence). The separation was an expected, although temporary, side effect of being sifted.
Christ himself prayed for Peter, (and for any future disciples including you, and me). He prayed that his follower’s faith should not fail. Sifting, it seems, would weaken any person, even someone as strong as Peter, tempting him to let go of his faith.
But here is the blessing ‑ Jesus himself prayed for us long before we were born. He knew that we too would undergo sifting, and be so battered and bruised we would be tempted to give up.
3.But, Jesus said, the sifted will return. He begins with this:
And when you have returned to me.
Isn’t it comforting to know we will not remain tossed back and forth in the winnowing basket forever? Jesus knew the sifted ones would return to him. Not IF, but WHEN. The wheat needed to be removed from the chaff. Simon Peter thought he did not have any more chaff in his life to be removed, but he was painfully wrong. But not as wrong as the sifter that God allowed in Simon-Peter’s life – and mine – and yours.
Christ’s care for us, and his personal prayer for us is stronger than the sifter. The one who has been sifted comes out able—stronger than before, according to the rest of Christ’s message: And when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.”
I have met many soldiers of Christ who have been sifted multiple ways – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Somehow, it seems those most bruised and broke are the stronger and most able to strengthen us. You. Me. Others.
Let’s take a moment today, and send a note of thanks to the soldiers who have strengthened us.
And, if we are still being sifted, let us not give up.
Let us remember that Jesus is praying for us.
we will return.
Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”