Monday, May 28, 2018

And when you turn back, strengthen your brothers.

Sometimes it takes going through a challenging time to knock off some of the rough edges that we never knew existed in our lives. Peter was one of those people who needed some rough edges knocked off.
Most of us are familiar with the way that Peter failed Jesus by denying him three times prior to the rooster crowing. . . just as Jesus said he would. . . and just like Peter insisted he wouldn't. What many don't catch in the Bible is that Jesus also admitted to Peter that there was a deal made with Satan over Peter's life.

Luke 22:31-32 says,  “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan has asked to "SIFT YOU AS WHEAT". (gulp) wow! Seriously? Satan wanted to tear Peter apart, to break him down, until there was NOTHING left of the poor guy. Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for him that he would get through the "sifting", and his faith would not fail, and that he would be instrumental in strengthening others with his faith when he comes out stronger after his ordeal.

I'll admit, the first time I read this I found no comfort in it at all. I couldn't get past the "sifting as wheat" comment, and I questioned why any deal should be made with Satan at all. Like, why does he have to get involved? Shouldn't he just leave the good Christians alone?

Something shifted in my mind after I went through a time of "sifting" myself that lasted much longer than I was comfortable with. I saw those verses differently when I tried to process my own personal sifting experience.

After the sifting comes a breakthrough and from that breakthrough comes a movement of others being strengthened. The trials that Satan wanted to put Peter through actually made him stronger, and because he was stronger, he could use that as a teaching tool that would then go on to strengthen others.

This was the hope I could cling to... that the terrible things that were happening that I couldn't make sense out of could somehow be used for God's glory, and therefore, not be all-for-nothing... or more importantly, not leave me weak, vulnerable, and alone, which is what I feared all along.

How about you?
Maybe you have already been through a challenging time that felt like a "sifting". Maybe you are going through that challenging time right now.

If you are in the middle of what feels like you are being sifted as wheat, take heart, and do these things:
  • Hold onto your faith. God may be using this time to refine some things in your life and that is okay. 
  • Continue seeking God. Pray, and read your Bible. Meditate on God's word, digging for nuggets of truth that speak directly to where you are at in your life right now.
  • Stay close with fellow believers who will help keep your accountable in your faith.
  • Make your question, "What are you teaching me here, God?" or  "What are you revealing about yourself to me right now?"
OH! And take notes... you just might be "strengthening your brothers" someday!!!