The question of suffering is one with which man has wrestled throughout history. Why does it happen? Is there any good to come from it? Luke 22:31-32 contains 3 truths to remember when facing trial and temptation.
- First, Satan means to destroy you. The word “ask” in the passage carries the sense of “demanding.” It brings to mind the scenes of Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-6 in which Satan demanded to test Job. And the sifting which he has in mind is not intended to strengthen but to destroy the faith of the apostles. We sometimes downplay the allure of temptation in this world as if we have mastered the flesh or perhaps we are simply above being affected by some things. Do not be deceived. The Devil wants to destroy you and leave you shattered on an ash heap of misery. No one is exempt (cf. 1 Cor. 10:12).
- Second, the Lord truly cares for you. Jesus said “Satan has asked for you,” plural, but singled our Peter in saying “But I have prayed for you,” singular. The Lord knew Peter better than Peter knew himself, and prayed for him to win the victory. Similar sentiments could be expressed about you and me. No, Jesus is not here in the flesh praying for us as He did for Peter, but He still cares and He is still on our side. He is our advocate (1 John 2:2) and our compassionate High Priest who sympathizes with us and through whom we may approach the throne of grace to find help when we need it (Heb. 4:14-16). Such an comforting truth should be always on our minds.
- Third, trial is not necessarily a bad thing. Satan desired to sift Peter which, in this context, means that he sought to destroy him. But the image of sifting can also refer to separating the good from the bad, as in separating the wheat from the chaff. James said “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (Jas. 1:2) and “Blessed is the man who endures temptation” (Jas. 1:12). We tend to see only the bad in struggling and suffering without ever considering what good may come from it.