If you’re like me, the answer’s yes. Way too often.
What do I mean?
Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Satan is the accuser. He’s out to destroy all of us. With Jesus praying for us, how can Satan ever win?
Unfortunately, the answer is – all too often.
Like now. I can’t tell you how much I feel I’ve wasted His prayers. Take the past year or so – looking for something or someone to make this life worth living. I feel like my life really has been passed through a flour sifter. It’s in tiny little pieces. What I expected to be the best time of my life is turning out to be even worse that anything that came before. If Jesus is praying for me, why am I still being sifted?
The answer to that question – is all too obvious from the previous paragraph.
Lk 14:25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Lk 18:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
Jn 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Trouble is part of life when we make the choice to follow Jesus. Even those who should be the closest to us will be the sources of some of those troubles.
It’s part of the price to pay.
Mt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
It’s hard, because it’s a price we can see and feel. And it’s a high price.
If we don’t pay attention, or don’t think about the future – maybe it doesn’t seem worth it to pay that price right now. Maybe we can convince ourselves that we can have the good life now and not pay the price later. Maybe we won’t really have to sell our soul to the devil in order to avoid being sifted in this life.
Sometimes I wish I could do that. Not think about the price. Believe the people who try to tell is that God wants us to be rich and happy in this life. The problem is, there’s no basis for believing it. Eventually, reality sets in. And I have to pay the price.
So what’s the answer to the dilemma of how to pay the price – how to carry the cross that we’re given?
I think maybe it comes from the one person I was the most afraid of when I was younger. He was the one I was afraid I’d have to be like.
But then I realized – things like what he went through don’t happen anymore. There’s nothing to worry about.
But then, the very first Bible study that I led was very much about him.
The book – Acts.
The person – Paul.
2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.
The part that Jesus said to Paul – applies to all who want to follow Him.
It’s a lesson I haven’t yet learned, apparently. Obviously.
To paraphrase the father in Mark 9:24 –
I do know your grace is sufficient for me. Help me believe what I think I know.
I wonder about the verses below –
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
The one that I seem to have the least of is joy. Not that I’m super filled with any of them, but the lack of joy seems way out of proportion.
And so I wonder – if I ever come to believe what I think I know about God’s grace –
will there be joy – in spite of / while being sifted?
or will finally learning that lesson maybe reduce / bring an end to the sifting?
I hope I find out the answer soon.
image from spiritualparadignms.wordpress.com;