“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of 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.” Luke 22:31-32
“Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.” Serenity Prayer
Sometimes it’s not consequences, disciplines, punishments for our actions that rip through our heart and soul like a tornado. We can do everything to the best of our ability, our motives are right, prayers are sincere, support is in place, hope and faith are ours and everything still falls apart. Darkness overtakes us. Could it be the Father of All Lies, the Murderer from the Beginning, the Power of the Air who attacks with an unmerciful vengeance? With a mocking snarl and a shout, “Gotcha!”
Well, apparently Peter was sifted like wheat. He was so brave and protective of his Lord when he cut off the ear of a Roman soldier at Jesus’ arrest. Hours later, Peter sobbed in despair because of his denials of Jesus. He ran from those who recognized him after the rooster crowed. He was sifted like wheat.
I was sifted like wheat when my husband became terminally ill and died. I was sifted like wheat when my son was in trouble. My faith did seem to fail. It sputtered. It left me. It mocked me. I turned over and over in my bed at night. “Tears were my food,” as the Psalmist said. I did not, would not, could not take this sinful world as it is. Truth is, I still don’t. I’m still appalled by the world.
- Satan asked to sift Peter like wheat. Satan needed permission to harass and torment Peter from the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. This is true for me and true for you. It blows our world apart. All seems lost.
- Jesus prays for us. When all seems gone, friends are ghosts, desperate and toxic behaviors are evident, Jesus prays for us.
- When we have recovered, we are to strengthen our brothers. The world is a hostile place. Our enemy, even more so. But Jesus prays for us.
Only in hindsight do I see Jesus’ rescue. The pain was too great! Looking at Peter’s life and mission after his great trial, I see how he became such an integral part of the church, the rock, the foundation. His letters are life-saving, inspiring and instructive. He died a martyr’s death, willingly and humbly. So, when all we can do is hang on, remember Jesus prays for you. Someday you will comfort and encourage others, but until then, take comfort in Jesus’ personal, attentive prayers and they’re just for you.
Thank you that you are with us always and you pray for us. You know that on our journey home there are times when words escape us, faith seems gone, friends are absent but your son prays for us. We know those prayers are always answered. We thank you for the Holy Spirit who prays with deep groanings for us. Help us to hang on. Help us to strengthen our brothers and sisters.