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Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.(Isaiah 30:20)
Last week we saw that Jesus allowed Peter to be “sifted as wheat” – by Satan. He allows this because he knows Peter has accumulated baggage over the years, baggage that needed shedding. Jesus knew that Peter, like all of us, was either clinging to, or being clung to, by a host of idols, false bravado, pride, selfishness, hurt, fear, dysfunctional coping mechanisms and control issues.
Jesus knows the idols and illusions you and I are clinging to, and he knows the baggage clinging to us. And he knows we will not give them up easily. Often, we don’t even see the harm they are causing. We’re so busy and we’re so distracted, we are blind to our silly illusions and our puny idols. Idols we are so sure we must have to be happy.
So as a favor to us – yes a favor – God allows troubles to stir us up. He uses trials to shake us up, so we can wake up from our cultural stupor. It appears God lets Satan do some of this work for him, using him like a tool, for our good. Perhaps our loving Father allows us, and others around us, to cause the trouble, as well.
I was once in a severe ditch, so I called my wise friend Det, and explained the situation to him. I then asked, “Do you think this is from God or from Satan? It would help me cope if I knew.”
His answer, “Yes.”
Does it really matter who and what? God is not doing this to you, but rather he is working through the brokenness of this world to accomplish something far greater in you. If you will let him. Do not miss that: If you will let him.
Picture this: there you are, covered with all sorts of negative thoughts, fears, false illusions, and silly idols. God allows you to be put into a sieve and the sifting process begins. Uh oh, you’re being bumped around and it hurts. “I don’t like this, God!”
But look, a false idol just fell off. And there, a bad habit and a negative emotion you’ve been harboring just shook off. Yes, that false bravado and foolish pride finally tumbled away. An illusion that, “I have to have this to be happy,” just fell away. And a persistent lust disappeared.
There goes a control issue, and a bit of your ego, even that unpleasant competitive streak – all sifting off until you are free. And typically the last to sift away: “My claim to my right to myself.”1
And finally, you can start to see. You can start to see your true Self, and you can also begin to see the true Father.
Job, who was described by God as, “blameless and upright,” had this to say after his own sifting experience:
“My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”2
Yes, God described Job as a righteous man. But he still had so far to go in his spiritual journey. After Job’s sifting experience he is now a man who is free from his old Self and can now see the real God. With his newfound 20-20 spiritual vision, he even says this about himself:
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”2
Is this new clarity and freedom worth the painful sifting? Peter and Job, and many of us, would declare, “Yes!”
2Job 42: 5-6