"When Your Faith Is Shaken"
"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 (NKJV)
Recently, I had one of the hardest days of my life!
My mom, who lives with us, woke up in excruciating pain. She had no one but me to help her. Within an hour, my pregnant daughter was admitted to the hospital because of her skyrocketing blood pressure. Rachael couldn’t reach her husband, so she asked me to come quickly in case she went into labor.
My husband had taken our only car to help someone and his cell phone was out of range. On top of all this, we live on a farm and rent out our barn for weddings. I needed to get ready for the two scheduled that weekend.
Brides and vendors were calling, emailing and texting. My mom was groaning in agony, my daughter was waiting, and I was supposed to be preparing for a retreat where I was speaking in two days! I didn’t know which emergency took precedence. My faith started to quiver in fear; despair attempted to envelop me.
I called a friend for encouragement. She firmly said, "Sharon, Satan is sifting you like wheat." She reminded me of Peter in the Bible. I got off the phone and went into prayer, laying my load at the feet of Jesus. Then, I picked up the Word and read the story of Peter.
It was the night before Jesus was crucified. He was sharing the Last Supper with His disciples and turned to Peter (also called Simon): "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.’"
A "sifter" is a machine that violently shakes grain and turns it into soft flour.
Satan was asking permission to violently shake Peter. A few hours later, Satan pulled out his first round of ammunition. He fired fear at Peter to get him to deny Christ. Satan knew if he could get Peter (and each of us) to fall for fear, our faith may fail. If this happens, he then sends the atomic bomb of shame and embarrassment.
There are three things we can learn from this story to encourage us in our troubles:
1. Satan sometimes asks God for permission to shake us, just like he did Peter.
God allows hardships for divine purposes. Our faith is increased through each trial, and we learn to trust God’s faithfulness and accept His mercy.
2. Jesus is praying for us, that our faith will not fail.
Wow, that’s huge! The very God of the universe prays for you and me!
3. Even when we fail, God quickly forgives when we ask and frees us from self-condemnation.
Peter learned this lesson not from his successes, but from his failures. After he denied Christ, Jesus forgave him and commissioned Peter to preach the Gospel and care for others. He could have lived with the shame of failing in his faith, but Jesus’ forgiveness washed that away.
Self-condemnation is probably one of the worst ways Satan tries to sift us. If our faith falters, we need to immediately ask God for forgiveness and not stay stuck in guilt. This helps take our focus off ourselves and puts it on serving others and the Lord.
Has Satan been sifting you lately? Boy, do I understand. Hectic deadlines, poor health issues, money frustrations and the pressures of life can shake our faith. These things can cause us to doubt that God is enough and will take care of us. In the middle of trials, we need to remember that God is in control, Jesus is praying for us and there is grace when our faith fails. Trusting these truths will move us from doubt and defeat to hope and peace.
Dear Lord, Help me! Increase my faith and give me Your strength to help others. Thank You for praying for me and giving me grace when I don’t deserve it. I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 5:10, "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." (NKJV)