ONE PROBLEM AFTER ANOTHER…WHAT IT ALL MEANS
By: Steve Davis
When I was a kid, I used to love playing with the sifter in my mom’s kitchen. I’d turn that handle whether there was anything in it or not. It was just great fun imagining sifting wheat and flour.
Then, I got hold of one that was being thrown away by a neighbor. I had hours of fun in the back yard, sifting dirt and putting it in my Tonka trucks.
You know how a sifter works: You put the dirt in and crank the handle. The arm on the inside keeps hitting the flour (or dirt, if you’re a 7 year old boy) and mashes it against the screen. It pulverizes every part of the flour until it’s just a bunch of powder.
Knowing about sifters helps you understand your life a lot better! Sometimes you feel like a cup of flour (or dirt!) that’s being sifted. Over and over again, you’re hit and smashed, until it feels like you’re being ground to powder!
In Luke 22:31, Jesus told Peter that Satan desired to have Peter, that he might sift Peter like wheat. Satan wanted to hit, pound, pulverize, crush and strain Peter until there was nothing left but a heap of broken little pieces.
That’s the reason you can have so many things, one after another hit you – until it almost makes your head spin. Maybe a bill gets lost in the
mail, so you don’t pay it, and it affects your credit rating. Then, someone who owes you money doesn’t come through. Your hours get cut at work. Next, a car repair wipes out your little bit of savings.
On the job, it seems like you can’t concentrate, and things go wrong. Some of it’s your fault, because you’re not thinking straight, so you accept the criticism of the others who wonder what’s wrong with you lately.
At home, things are needing repair, and maybe a major appliance breaks…and you can’t get anyone out to fix it at a reasonable price. You’re not eating right, not sleeping well, and the phone, the TV, and your nerves.
This is about the time your body stops cooperating with you. Everything else is going wrong, and now even your own body joins forces against you. Headaches, bad digestion, joints and muscular aches, lack of concentration all conspire against you.
Of course, this is when other people start getting super sensitive and impatient with you. They don’t notice the pressure you’re under or the problems you’re dealing with. They get more and more demanding and less and less understanding of you. And, when you exhibit any signs of being merely human, they get all hurt, pouty and mad at you!
At church, you’re so frustrated and upset that you really don’t get anything out of the worship or the message. You don’t feel the presence of God here like you used to. Maybe God’s calling you to leave. You just go from one place of pain and problems to another.
Use your head. Do you really think that, all of a sudden, your house, car, lawn mower, appliances and other possessions are just “breaking?”
Or, that everybody in your whole like is just “changing?” Or, that all of a sudden, the whole church, the Pastor, the worship leader, Sunday school department, leadership, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit have stopped being like they USED to be?
No! A thousand times, NO! What’s happening is, you’re being sifted. Hit, pounded, crushed, pulverized, over and over and over again. And, you feel all alone and forsaken.
Satan wants to sift you like wheat! But JESUS is PRAYING for YOU! In Luke 22:31, Jesus says, “I have prayed for thee, that THY FAITH FAIL NOT! And, when thou art converted (changed, helped, strengthened, back on your feet, once again in a good position), strengthen thy brethren.”
See, Jesus KNOWS what you’re going through! HE went through it Himself, when He was on earth. His friends betrayed Him, He had people with all kinds of demands and expectations. He also had His very best friends turn their backs on Him, and leave Him to die alone and rejected.
That’s why the Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that “we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” He was in ALL points tempted (tested, tired, hassled) like we are, yet He didn’t sin.
When we’re being sifted, we need MORE than ever to come to God with it. “He is able to save them to the uttermost who come to God by Him. He lives to make intercession (prayer) for them.” That’s Hebrews 7:25. Jesus is CONSTANTLY praying for YOU! Day and night, you are on His heart and mind. He is at THIS MOMENT praying to the Father on YOUR behalf!
Why does He care so much? First off, because He loves you. He “is very pitiful (full of pity), and of tender mercy (James 5:11).” He IS actually TOUCHED with the feelings of your pains and problems.
Another reason He cares so much is, that the devil is trying to wear you out. Literally, as it says in Daniel 7:25, to “speak great words against the most High, and wear out the saints…” Satan tells you God isn’t being fair, and that God doesn’t care for you.
Satan KNOWS that you’ll get the strength, the help and the encouragement your soul needs. He KNOWS that there are people who NEED for you to be in the house of God. And, he knows that the best way to attack a Believer is to get that person alone, out of fellowship and isolated, spiritually and emotionally.
When you are in church, Satan will try to make it too cold here for you or too hot! He’ll get someone or something to keep you distracted, so you can’t pay attention. And, if at all possible, he’ll try to arrange for you to get your FEELINGS hurt! That’s the best tool he has for separating a believer from the other believers!
The other reason Jesus cares so much is because He is working on other people whom YOU are meant to reach for him. People who are hurting and in need. When you’re overloaded, fried, swamped and burned out, you’re not able to win the other person. You won’t even be aware that Jesus has put someone there for you.
People are depending on you for bringing them the Word and leading them to a knowledge of Jesus. You can even USE this argument when you come to God asking for help! Tell Him, there are people who NEED you to be on top! That you need help and deliverance.
Next, remind Jesus of the enemy. That, it seems to those around you as if the devil’s being allowed to have a heyday in your life. First Samuel 12:22 says, “The Lord will not forsake His people for his great Name’s sake: For it has PLEASED the Lord to make you His people.”
Use your FAITH. It’s the “as if” principle. You act “as if” you had the victory and that things are going well again. That means, you speak to people about their spiritual well-being, you demonstrate as much patience and tolerance as the Lord helps you with, and know that NO TRIAL lasts forever.
Keep the “pattern of good works.” If Satan discovers that all it takes to knock you out of the loop is to throw a little physical pain, or a bit of rejection, what do you think he’s going to throw at you every time he wants to watch you flounder around like a lost rag doll on amphetamines?
Don’t let him chase you out of church! Don’t let him cause you to pull back from your friends! Don’t let him make you an up and down, undependable emotionally crippled puppet!
Do it anyway. Be sweet! Make the choice to be kind, patient, caring and pleasant. Be there for people. Even the unlovable ones. Be kind, even to those who don’t “deserve” it. Jesus was kind to you and me when WE didn’t “deserve” it.
Learn. Someone said “Life gives the test first and teaches the lesson afterwards.” What a nugget of useful wisdom! Go ahead and take the test. Then, search for the lesson! That way, you won’t have to have to take a “retake.”
Be strong, tough it out, be faithful and you will be victorious. “Thanks be to God, who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ…” It goes on to say there in 2 Corinthians 2:14 that God USES us to make the sweetness of knowing Him obvious to the people all around us.
God, even at the worst of times, has been better to us than we deserve, and He’s going to keep right on helping, strengthening, prospering and giving favor with God and man. He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever!