Sifted Like Wheat
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Behold, Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like 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
It was just another day for me. My husband was off to work and I had set out to run around town accomplishing my list of to-dos. As I was walking down the grocery isle my phone rang. “Mrs. James this is Don, (he sounded panicked but was trying to keep it together for my sake.) and I wanted you to know that ughh..ummm…Mark, well he is okay. You don’t need to worry, but we were working with on a forklift and Mark has fallen 30 feet off of it and we are taking him to the emergency room to have his ankle looked at. Again, Mrs. James don’t worry he is okay and we will keep you updated.”
The first step in the process of sifting wheat is to loosen the chaff from the grain. In Jesus time they would have harvested the wheat and placed it in some sort of sack, laying it on the threshing floor and beating it violently with a flail. Once that step of the process was done, they then needed to separate the grain from the chaff. This would involve throwing the mixture into the air so that the slightest wind would blow away the lighter chaff causing the heavier grains to fall back down onto the floor.
Can you picture the process of sifting wheat in relation to how it might feel when we go through times of testing? It may feel like we are taking a beating ourselves, right? It might be hard to imagine that as a follower of Jesus we will also be sifted as wheat. It would be easier for us to focus on the truths that make us feel all warm and fuzzy like the goodness of God’s love and grace as opposed to those that might make us feel uncomfortable. But today’s key verse reveals a truth about testing we shouldn’t ignore. In Scripture Satan has to be given permission by God to shake us violently just as one does wheat. And God in His Sovereignty sometimes agrees. (Job 1:12) One of the ways we see Satan work is he tries the faith of believers to place temptations and trials in their way, that they may be tested. Thus, God gave Simon into his hands, that through this testing his faith would not fail and he would return to Christ. God’s purpose for these times of testing are always good. It is a process just like the wheat for anything to be removed from us that is not good or beneficial for us. When this testing takes place there can be lessons to learn and growth to take place for our good. (Revelation 2:10) It is an opportunity where God’s Glory can be displayed in us and through us. In our weakness God’s grace is always sufficient for us. It is an invitation for us to continue to mature in our walk with the Lord. This testing will prove our faith genuine. (1 Peter 1:7) God’s desire for us is to be transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
So, the question then is where is God while we are being sifted? When we are in situations where we feel like we are being shaken it can feel or appear like God is absent. On the contrary He is not. He is actually right there with us in the middle of it. (Joshua 1:5) He has never left us nor forsaken us. Just like a teacher giving their students a test, the teacher sits and waits quietly. God is always for us and with us even in the midst of testing time. God draws near to us through the intercessory presence of His Son Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 2:5, Luke 22:32)
Turns out that he did have a fractured ankle but a few days later it all got worse. My husband developed a 6 inch blood clot behind the knee. Part of this blood clot broke off and went to his lungs causing him to have a pulmonary embolism sending us straight to the emergency room. My husband was laid up for months not able to work and I had to give him injections into his stomach to keep any of the blood clot breaking off and going to his lungs or worse his brain. We incurred thousands of dollars in medical debt and over the next few months we would be stretch in such a way that we were not expecting or truthfully, inviting.
You see, through this time of testing we learned and grew so much! We quickly began to be reminded that our security was not in manna, a job, a group of people, our even good health, it was in Jesus alone. We came to understand the truth a little deeper, the devil comes to kill, steal and destroy BUT Jesus came to give LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY. (John 10:10) We saw God used this time of testing to strengthen our marriage. There were many opportunities we found to praise God in the middle of this storm. We came to know God as Jehovah-Jireh the “Lord who provides.” The testimonies are numerous God gave us from supernatural provision, to God preserving and recovering my husband’s body. We can testify He is El Roi the God who sees. Every time we called on the name of the Lord in times of trouble, we watched Him show up over and over and over in ways we could not have imagined. (Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 50:15) Yet what we suffered then was nothing compared to the glory he revealed to us later. (Romans 8:18)
I love what Jude from truth immutable says, “The closing phrase of the verse reminds us that as followers of Christ, we have the responsibility to serve Him. Nothing that happens in our lives – good or bad – is ever only for ourselves. When we are sifted as wheat, it’s firstly to work in us to remove what isn’t of God. But its greater purpose is that we’re prepared and able to strengthen others. Our experience will help others in their journey, and God empowers us through our trials to equip us to strengthen others. It’s not optional. Jesus said that when we return, we must strengthen others. This responsibility is what empowers our struggle with supernatural kingdom power. Our victory in Christ is therefore multiplied. It adds powerful value to what we have gone through. But if we hold back and avoid the responsibility to ‘pass it forward,’ we work against the purposes of God.”
May I suggest that sometimes we asked God to deliver us from something but God wants to deliver us through something. So, if you find yourself in a season of being sifted like wheat remember there is purpose, lessons, and growth in all of it for your good and for God’s glory. (Romans 8:28) The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3) God will protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:8) He will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10) As you come out of this testing time may your faith be strengthened so that you can go and strengthen others.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)