“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
The biblical way of sifting wheat was to beat it, loosening the outer hull from the edible grain. It sounds like Jesus is saying that Satan wants to knock Simon around a little bit, much like he beat up on Job. Jesus doesn’t do anything to prevent this. He just says, “I’ll pray for you, Simon. I’ll pray that your faith holds out. But don’t worry, when you do fail, you’ll have a great ministry.
Gee, thanks Jesus. I thought you were on my side. I can get all kinds of people to pray for me. I was hoping a little more from you. If Satan is after me, I could use protection, like the shield of faith. Or a refuge where I can be safe. Or your word that commands the demons and makes them obey. Or that sword thing that comes out of your mouth in Revelation. How about this: I pray and you deliver me from evil? You be the lion tamer!
I don’t like what I see in this mirror. I don’t like seeing myself with a target on my back. Having lost the war in heaven, the devil is out to get the faithful (Revelation 12:17). Anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord can expect sifting.
Scripture is filled with the failures of the sifted faithful. Moses hit the rock. Samson got a hair cut. Saul made up his own rules. David pointed his binoculars the wrong way. Solomon got carried away with wives. Jeremiah hated his job description. Habakkuk was fed up with divine apathy.
We’ve each got our own chapter of failed faith to add to the history of the church. Grief, anger, discouragement, frustration, fear have beaten the husks of false security from our lives leaving us with…Jesus. The one who intercedes for us at the right hand of God now uses us to encourage our brothers and sisters. Satan may attack everything we hold dear and take for granted, but he can never separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus.
Thanks for your prayers, Jesus. This hurts a lot more than I thought it would. Amen.