“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
Jesus spoke the words in the verse above when He and His disciples were eating the ‘Lord’s supper’ and when He was predicting Peter’s imminent denial of Him. Jesus told Peter that Satan asked for Him, meaning that, Jesus had previously had a conversation with Satan whereby, Satan requested for Peter. This implies that Satan cannot pick and choose, freely, whom he desires to afflict or torment, on this earth, ‘he must ask God, he needs God’s permission to do so’. (Head spinning right? – Yes, it was for me also when I was opened to this understanding).
However, surprised we must not be, for in the Bible, there is another example whereby it shows that, Satan requires God’s permission for everything, especially when it comes to His children. Where is that written? I hear you ask. In the book of Job. It is evident in Job 2: 3 – 6, and it reads “3 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” 4 Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5 But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” 6 “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.”
Here we see, Satan having conversations with God regarding Job and asking permission to torment Job so that he(Job), can turn his back on God.
To ask permission means: “authorization granted to do something; formal consent”
To sift means to: “pass or fall through or as if through a sieve”
We learn from this same Luke 22 passage that, Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat, thereby putting Peter’s FAITH to the test. He wanted to put Peter’s FAITH UNDER PRESSURE.
What is the essence of putting Peter’s faith to the test, I hear you ask? Well lets go to Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (NLT)
To break this passage down further, it means that our FAITH, which is our BELIEF (which is in the fundamental fact of God’s existence and in His word, which is our firm foundation), that what we hope (which is in God’s word) for, will actually happen; it gives us total and complete assurance (total confidence) about the things that we cannot see.
Thus, with that definition in mind, when our faith is tested, our belief, confidence, hope and total assurance and declaration in God and His word, is being tested. It is not to test if we can hold on to our earthly possessions (cars, houses, jobs and the rest), but if we can hold on to our firm belief in God, during the trials and tribulations we go through.
Reading Luke 22: 31 – 32 further, we learn that, even though Jesus gave Satan permission to test Paul, in His goodness, He made sure that Peter was going to be alright. Jesus prayed for Peter. He prayed that his Faith (which is what was to be tested) will not fail him, Luke 22: 32 reads “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail;” However, the beauty of our Lord Jesus is that, as He prayed for Peter then, He still prays for us now, during our trials and tribulations as confirmed in Romans 8:34, which reads “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”
We also learn from the 2nd part of verse 32, of Luke 22, that regardless our trials and tribulations, we will come through. However, when we do, we will have a testimony, which is to be used to help others who are going through the same difficulties we just came out of. Luke 22:32 reads “…So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers. (NLT)” This is why it is important to share our testimonies with others so that it will help them towards their breakthrough and also bringing glory to God’s name.
From all of the above, we must remember that:
- Nothing happens to us without God’s permission. Satan has to obtain permission from God to afflict us. I like to say he requires a ‘permission slip’ that states his limited, under permission authority and boundaries on anything concerning us.
- When we are going through trials and tribulations, being tested, it is our FAITH – our foundation, our belief in God that is being tested.
- God is always there to help and see us through as we are assured in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which reads “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure”.
- The testing of our faith is good for us, for it brings growth through endurance as confirmed in James1: 2 – 4, which reads “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” Endurance is the ability or strength to continue or last, esp. despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance
Be encouraged and of good cheer, for every single test of faith we go through, has not happened without God’s notice or permission.
Nothing occurs to God and nothing takes Him by surprise.
However, we must do whatever it takes, to hold on to the very foundations of our faith, our belief, which is in God and His word. We must believe that He is on our side, He is praying for us, and the tests are to refine us. This means we will be fine, we will come out refined and much stronger. We will come out victorious armed with powerful and life changing testimonies. These we must share with others, to strengthen and help them through their own tests; whilst making our good, wonderful and merciful God, famous along your way.
***Pictures by Photobucket**