Column post by Rita Schulte
Twelve years ago I had a breakdown. Shattered dreams, unmet expectations, and unfathomable loss made me question if God even cared about the attack on my heart.
Panic, depression, and confusion set in.
Ever been there? Has your heart ever been shattered? Maybe your recollection of the pain is still fresh.
Suffering can do one of two things in our lives: propel us toward hope, or lead us to despair. Thankfully, I chose the former. Not because I’m such a great Christian, but because I wanted answers for the pain. So God gave. No secrets. No quick fix or speedy formula for recovery. The answer to suffering, or as I’ve come to call it, being “sifted as wheat”, is found in Luke 22:31-32:
“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.”
Consider the perspective-changing insight we glean from Luke.
Be on guard.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”
How is wheat sifted? It is beaten on a threshing floor to separate it from the chaff, then tossed in the air to blow away loosened chaff. What remains is placed in a sieve to be ground. The sifting cleanses and purifies the wheat so it is suitable for grinding into flour.
All those life events that have beaten you down, rocked your world, and caused you pain have waged an assault on your heart.
Jesus warns Peter (and all of us) about the Enemy of our soul. Satan willed to have the disciples fall away. He desired to challenge them, to prove them hypocrites. He wanted to show them as chaff, not wheat.
He accomplishes his purpose in the same way today. By relentless assault. Making us hard-pressed on every side. Beaten down. Broken by the vicissitudes of life. Ready to give up, embrace despair, and reject the goodness of Almighty God.
How do we proceed?
With the encouragement Jesus gave to Simon Peter: “I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
The assault on our hearts is a brutal sifting process. But we cannot give up. We must fight the battle for our hearts because they matter to God.
The next life-changing truth in Luke is found in the final segment of the verse: “…and (Simon), when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
How do we heal after being sifted?
By investing ourselves in the lives of others and using what we’ve learned from our trials to spur them on.
Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
The sifting process is difficult: those who make it through go on to spiritual maturity; those who don’t make it forfeit their souls for a cheap substitute. If you’re being sifted, won’t you remember Jesus’s words to Simon Peter and decide today to join him in battle for your heart?
Rita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas, Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast” where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today. She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life will be released next fall. You can follow her at http://www.siftedaswheat.com or Twitter at Heartlinepod.
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