“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” ~ Luke 22: 31-31
The sum total of what is known, unknown and what remains of my childhood sit downstairs in stacked boxes. I’ve been putting off the going-through of them for sometime. I’ve been telling myself that I’ll wait until the business of estate handling is over, which has been a process to say the least. Now there is light at the end of that tunnel and so the “sifting” has begun. In more ways than one. Hardship and pain are not foreign to me. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a broken engagement that came out of left field. I have a keen awareness of the impossible, out-of-control feeling of infertility and miscarriage. I know what it’s like to dream and watch that dream dissolve into a million pieces of broken. I know what it’s like to be “orphaned” in theory and then “orphaned” in reality. I know what it’s like to be the school kid that no one notices or even half understands. It’s part of my story I hope to share in more depth at a later date, but I was a foster kid for much of my childhood. I passed through the state and the hands of two families until finally finding a semi-permanent arrangement in the third that would last the few years remaining until I turned 18 and graduated. Rejection, loss, that feeling of being set-aside and unwanted is more familiar to me than what remains in those boxes downstairs.
In truth, some of the things I have been finding I have not had in my possession or seen since I was young, very young. They are treasures that have opened up a lost childhood and as a result, I have been sifting and being sifted simultaneously. Through the sifting, I am reminded of what it actually means to be sifted. Farmers understand that when wheat is sifted, the chaff and other impurities fall to the ground. What remains in the sieve is the desired end product – the good wheat. But to get to the good, a little bit of ground shaking has to happen. Its the process of refinement. A labor intensive process, but a needed process.
Trials are absolutely inescapable in life. That is just as much a reality to take to the bank as the law of gravity is. We can no more fly and expect not to fall as we can expect to live life unscathed. Satan not only seeks to kill, steal and destroy us through the storms and trials of life but he LOVES an opportunity to shift our focus to our pain. If Satan can convince us to set camp up in pain then we begin to see it as a larger-than-life circumstance swallowing hope up in a sinkhole of despair. Satan deceives, and he is oh so good at using the things in our lives that break us to make us believe we are irrevocably broken.
Not so with God. Those trials, those fires, those moments in time when we have felt the shaking hands of sifting, God has been there. Not only been there, but as He reminded Simon Peter, He intercedes for us, prays for us, that through the fires we would not fail but that our faith would be strengthened. A stronger foundation of faith is the wheat that remains in the sieve when the storm passes. It is the golden nugget of good that changes us, refines and defines us. Not the trial. But God, always God. He knows the beginning of the story, the middle, and the end. He sees us through the WHOLE thing.
I loved this quote by Lysa Terkeurst, in her book Uninvited;
Hold fast to Jesus and remember: This breaking of you will be the making of you. A new you. A stronger you. Strengthened not with the pride of perfection but with the sweet grace of one who knows an intimate closeness with her Lord.
And so there is sifting. For now. It’s a season of remembering. A season of forgiving. A seasoning of understanding and of grace. A season of letting go. A season that is an interim to the near future when the comfort I have received will be available for the giving to another. A sifting season meant for good, for rebuilding, for transforming. A season to sit, with palms open upward and wide. A season sifted first through the very hands of God Himself. In that reality the wrestling stops and what remains is the peace that God is up to something good, very good indeed.