Three Ways to Stay Faithful in a Sifting Season
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’” Luke 22:31-32
Have you ever walked through a season so difficult, you feared your faith might crumble?
The day I received my son’s autism diagnosis, something inside me broke. Through tears, I scribbled in the margins of my daily devotion, I don’t know how my faith is going to survive this hit.
The diagnosis ushered me into a three-year period of darkness. Little cracks in my marriage rapidly became gaping fissures.
Seemingly small lies I’d believed about God suddenly loomed large. Tears, fears and endless wrestling matches with my heavenly Father multiplied.
Have you ever walked through something similar?
Maybe you, too, have experienced the withering blow of a surprising or devastating diagnosis.
Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, and your grieving heart can’t make sense of the sorrow.
Maybe recent months of social isolation, fear and turmoil have taken their toll by beating against your faith.
Where is God in all this darkness?
Like me, you might find yourself in a “sifting” season — a period of deep pain with the divine purpose of purifying and bolstering your faith. “Sifting” in the Bible typically refers to the process of separating wheat from its inedible counterpart, chaff. Likewise, sifting seasons play an important role in separating out the useless chaff from our hearts.
We are not the first followers of Jesus to undergo a refining of this sort. Centuries ago, the Apostle Simon (known as Simon Peter or simply Peter) experienced this. What’s more, Jesus even told him it was coming:
“‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers’” (Luke 22:31-32).
Peter balked at the idea that his faith would ever fail … and yet, hours after Jesus spoke these words, there Peter sat, cowered around a fire with strangers, denying that he ever knew his condemned Savior!
It was his lowest moment — yet as a result, the fear, doubt and cowardice was indeed sifted away. While Satan hoped to sift Peter right out of history, God fortified, purified and prepared Peter to become the “rock” Christ would use to build His church (see Matthew 16:18).
God wants to do the same for you and me, friend. Like Peter, we can learn to survive and even thrive as a result of an excruciating season. As you fight for your faith, here are some important things to remember:
1. Keep calm.
It feels incredibly scary and unsettling when a sifting season hits, but these seasons play a vital role in our spiritual growth. Scripture even tells us to expect them! Like Peter, we also have sins, beliefs and behaviors that need removing.
2. Keep connected.
When our faith is sifted, we need the support of community more than ever. Jesus prayed for the faith of Peter and His disciples. Likewise, we need dear and trusted friends supporting us in prayer, too. Authentic community helps see us through to the other side.
3. Keep the goal in mind.
We must remember God’s heart in allowing these seasons: He’s moving us into deeper faith, tenderly transforming us through the sorrow. As a result, we find ourselves equipped to encourage our struggling brothers and sisters. You never know how God will use this time in your life to help another!
My own sifting season, though painful, led me into a deeper fellowship with my heavenly Father, sweeter than I ever could have imagined! Now, when I see that scribbled note in my devotion, my soul is at peace. I am eternally grateful for all the “chaff” God removed from my heart.
He will faithfully do the same for you, dear one — only let Him lead you through.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to refine our faith. We confess our tendency to doubt You in difficult seasons. Help us continue wrestling for our faith, and sustain us by Your grace until Your work in us is complete. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Job 23:10, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
2 Corinthians 12:9a, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”