There are times in our lives when we go through severe adversity. Times of pressure and testing that seem almost too much to bear; times when our faith doesn’t seem substantial enough to see us through the storm. In reality these times of testing are the building blocks of faith that make us stronger in the end.
While most trials are the circumstances of life, common to all of us, there are those unique times when God allows the enemy to put us through the crucible. There are two occasions in Scripture where this is seen:
Job 1:7-12 (NASB)
7 And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it."
8 And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing?
10 "Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11 "But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face."
12 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.
Luke 22:31 (NASB)
31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. "
In both of these instances Satan has been given permission to put someone through a time of testing. Satan’s intention of course is to steal, kill and destroy things like joy, faith, trust and obedience. In spite of Satan’s intentions, God sets the boundaries. Notice with Job, He defined what Satan could and couldn’t do in his testing of Job. In fact, Satan’s complaint was that Job was faithful to God, because the hand of God was always protecting Job. In the case of Simon Peter, Jesus not only states that he will be tested, but he also indicates the outcome: “…and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus was letting Simon Peter know that he even though he would fail this test; he would also pass this test and return to solid footing, to such a degree that his experience would strengthen others.
If you are currently going through a time of severe testing, this may be an instance where God is permitting the enemy to “sift” you. Know that just as Jesus interceded for Peter’s faith to fail not, He is doing the same for you. Take comfort in the knowledge that God has set the boundary lines, and that limitations have been put on the degree to which you can be tested. Finally realize that you will make it through this time of testing, and even if you fail at times, your experiences will become bedrock of strength that in due time will even strengthen others.