“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.”
Put yourself in Peter’s place. Jesus tells you that Satan has asked to “sift you” – translation, “beat the snot out of you”. That is worse than hearing the school bully is waiting for you in the parking lot. But surely God said “no” to Satan’s request, right? Wrong.
Jesus tells you He has prayed for you. Whew! That’s a relief. Jesus prayed so now the bully won’t be able to touch you or maybe you’ll even beat him up, right? Wrong again.
He only prayed that your faith would not fail – translation, that while the bully is beating you up, you won’t give up. What?! Jesus didn’t pray to keep you safe?!
The news gets worse. He says, “when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Translation, after you have regained consciousness from the beating, encourage others. Jesus knows you are going to fail this test yet He still gives Satan permission to attack!
“Wait, Lord! Won’t I be better at “strengthening” my brothers if I win the battle with Satan? What kind of testimony will I have if I get my tail kicked by the devil?” That is a weird thing about God, He seems to be at His best when working through frail, weak tools. In our weakness His strength is revealed. There are lessons to be learned through the beating.
NOTE: In my years of walking with the Lord I have seen some folks who regularly get the snot kicked out of them by the Lord’s permissive hand and others who seem to grow and mature with little “abuse”. The difference? Here is a clue: Of all the apostles, Peter was the boldest, most self-confident and proud. God loves to use folks like that but He has to work overtime to prepare them.
So let’s get this straight: Jesus, you are saying that Satan has asked to kick the snot out of me and You gave him permission to do it. You prayed for me but only that I would survive the beating. You already know that I am going to get my tail kicked and lose the battle. But once I pick my bleeding body up off the pavement You want me to go and encourage others that even though they may get their tails kicked by Satan, they can get up, get back in the fight and still be used by God. That is what You are saying?
OK then, let’s do it!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
1 Corinthians 1:25
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
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