Sifted Like Wheat

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 1, 2020 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Nobody likes to go through trials and testing. Those are challenging enough, but to be “sifted like wheat” is another issue. My pastor says this: “If you squeeze a lemon, what comes out? Whatever is inside of it.” We are going through a squeezing right now, so let me set the scene.

Peter went through several tests throughout his discipleship with Jesus. He was sent out with the 12 to go preaching. He walked on water, only to sink once he started seeing the waves. But Peter’s biggest trial came the night Jesus was arrested. He followed Jesus from a distance but quickly denied even knowing Him when identified by a servant girl. When it was done, Peter heard the rooster crow and he realized what he did. He left weeping bitterly.

What happened? Jesus told him beforehand that Satan was asking for him to sift him like wheat. Sifting is a process where the wheat plant is broken up so the pure wheat grain can be separated from the husk and chaff. The tool used for sifting is called a tribular, which is the source of the term “tribulation.” Peter was going to be hit and shaken down to where his true self was exposed, and all the cosmetics, façades, and masks would be removed.

John Bevere in his book The Bait of Satan brought an angle to this incident that I had not thought about. Jesus knew the trial was coming, and he didn’t stop it. He instead prayed that Peter might endure it. That is the total opposite of what most of us would ever say to someone going through a trial. We call to rebuke the Devil for causing us problems. We pray that God remove the trial or the thorn. I have not often heard people pray that God will teach us what we need to learn through this. Now there is a point where we must rebuke the Devil and not let him steal from us, however, most of the time, we are asking to not let our comfortable lives be disturbed. Yet when this sifting comes, God is going to simply hand us over and put us on display whether we are going to be faithful or not (He does know the outcome, for the record).

Job was sifted like wheat. He lost everything: family, wealth, health, and prosperity. Everything the “prosperity preachers” call for us to get today, Job lost. Why? Because God and Satan were making wagers in heaven. God put Job on display for the world and the hosts of heaven to see that there is a man who worships God for who He is, not because of what He gives. Job was stripped down to just his person, yet he never once sinned with his lips against God.

I have been sifted like wheat twice so far, and I expect it will happen again. The first time, back in 2007, I was at my last summer working at a grocery store and I wanted to see one of my co-workers get saved. But in the process, I stirred up a demonic stronghold which had been laying dormant in his life and it began to manifest itself through him. The story takes about an hour for me to tell, so this is hardly the space for that, but to cut to the chase, my faith was stripped down to its core and I came out of it more confident and stronger in it than ever before. I did not get the demon out but that’s another topic.

Another time of sifting came while I’ve been writing for Worldview Warriors. I was a substitute teacher for 6 ½ years, most of that at one school. I had applied countless times for full teaching jobs, had 20 interviews, and nothing came forth. Even when I taught physics for nearly a full year and applied for the opening 7 times, I got nothing. I only had one hint of a job offer in the whole time. It was clear that there was no interest in me being a teacher. And I had to wrestle through my heart and attitudes about the situation. It wasn’t easy. What was happening here? I could say the school and the district were exploiting me, but ultimately, God was preserving me, holding me for my current position. The process helped strip away my dependence upon total structure and to rely on God for when curveballs come my way. I’ve not mastered the lesson, but I’ve come a long way.

This nation has been going through the “tribular” for the last three years. No, I am not talking about persecution of the church. But I’ve noticed something since Trump’s election: the façade and the masks that people have been hiding behind are being stripped away. The United States has been through some major foundational changes in our lifetimes. Our Worldview Warriors president, Jason DeZurik, has been explaining some of that in blog posts this year. But regardless of what anyone thinks about whether Trump has been doing a good job or not, what has come out of his administration is a revelation of who really is who. Masks are coming off. People are revealing who they truly are. Take note that I am not saying Trump is doing it himself; God is doing it through Trump.

Little has really shown this more than the corona virus. Over the last few months, many people have had their confidence in their comforts shaken. So much fear is on display (often driven by the media) and panic toilet paper buying has only revealed what was already there: greed, selfishness, arrogance, and a total lack of dependence upon God to have control over things. Many Christians have bought into the hype as well, stirring up fear and warning everyone to take shelter. These people have been squeezed, and fear and panic came out. But not all have bought it.

There are many others who are showing their true hearts not of wickedness but of compassion. We are seeing people who were once divided coming together during this crisis. We are seeing Christians do what Christians do: go support people in this time of plague. I have read many biographies and a number of them deal with plagues. And one thing I did not see in any of them was a “go congregate with self” mode. Instead, I saw a “Lord, what shall I do?” mode. They saw a need and went out to do something about it. They didn’t try to solve the problem; they just sought to be Christ in the midst of a broken and hurting world. They were squeezed and Christ came out.

We are going through a sifting as a nation right now. We are being squeezed as a lemon. What is coming out of us? Christ, or something else? Let it be Christ. Are we going to pray that God remove the trial? Or are we going to pray that God take us through it? Let’s go through the storm, not try to skirt around it. When the winds and rains come, whose house will stand? These past three years have shown that only those who built upon Christ are staying strong. Let us turn to the Solid Rock so as we go through this sifting, we will be found faithful.

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