Maybe This Is Good
Pastor Rod Thompson
Midland SDA Church
October 7, 2017
I read a story the other day about a man who always said “This is good.” to everything that happened to him.
It seems that he went with his king on a hunting trip. He loaded the guns and the king shot them. Evidentially, he loaded one gun wrong and when it went off it exploded in the barrel and blew the king’s finger off. Examining the situation, the friend said as usual, “This is good.”
Well, the king got mad and threw his friend in jail. “No, this is not good – the king said.” About a year later, the king goes on another hunting trip to an area where there are cannibals. The Cannibals capture him and tie his hands and feet and bound him to a stake because they were going to cook and eat him.
As they come near, they saw that the kings finger is missing. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone less than whole. So, they set the king free.
As he returned home, he felt guilty about putting his friend in jail for a year. So, he goes to the jail and apologizes to his friend. He explained what happened to him. He says, “I’m very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”
“No, his friend replied, “This is good.” “What do you mean, This is good.” “How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”
“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you.”
The fact is, brothers and sisters, that we all go through trials and difficulties, don’t we?
In our scripture reading this morning
(Luke 22:31) Jesus said, Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
I don’t know if you have ever thought about this before or not, but the sifting of wheat is a brutal process.
1. First of all the wheat is separated from its life giving source
2. Then it is beaten with rods and trodden on by ox and sled
3. And then its God given protection is removed
4. And then it is passed through a sieve where the valuable and useful is separated from that which is unprofitable
All this is done so that the farmer can say, “This is good.”
In our scripture reading this morning Jesus is warning Peter that he would go through a testing period. But Jesus apparently believed that this process was necessary for peter.
Think about this for a minute: God loves you with an amazing amount of love. He doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God wants nothing but good for you. And God is in charge of all things – or else He is not God. Nothing can happen to you unless He allows it. So if Satan is allowed to sift Peter or you for that matter, then God had to have allowed it. And if He allowed it, and He loves you that much, it must be for your good.
Look at verse 31 again - We might have expected Jesus to say, “Satan, demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I didn’t let him.” I wish it had said that, but that’s not what it says.
Jesus allowed this brutal sifting process in Peter’s life even though he loved Peter.
And notice that Satan had to get permission.
Satan Did More than Say “Please.” The New American Standard and English standard translations both say that Satan “demanded” permission from God to target the apostle. Satan said more than “Please” to God, (in other words), he asked with a strong degree of insistence. And Satan demanded this permission from the sovereign Lord for his own selfish, destructive agenda.
The image Jesus chose, that of sifting like wheat, is painfully graphic. “The picture is of grain being removed from its life source, beaten and separated from its protection and then sent through a sieve, where the head of grain is taken apart.
Our English idiom of ‘picking someone to pieces’ or ‘taking someone apart’ has similar emotional force. Satan would like to bring Peter to ruin and leave him in pieces, exposing his lack of faithfulness.
And Jesus did allow it.
Read Luke 22:32
Notice that Jesus encouraged Peter by telling him “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.” While Satan acts as the cunning adversary, Jesus acts as the intercessor, the advocate of His people. Though Satan takes full advantage of Peter’s human weaknesses and succeeds in temporarily derailing him, the Evil One fails to fully destroy the apostle because Jesus intercedes for him. What a comfort this is! Every true believer in Christ has the assurance that Jesus continues to be our intercessory prayer warrior. Oh, that’s good news isn’t it?
Jesus believed that Peter is eventually going to be stronger from having gone through this. He says, “When you have turned back” not if, but when. Jesus sees what Peter can become, not just what Peter is and He says when you have turned back strengthen your brethren.
If you do a comparison between Luke’s account of this event and Matthews you discover that Peter was ready to die for Jesus.
Matthew 26:31 &33 Jesus said, all of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written; I will strike the Shepard, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered … Petered answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”
Nonetheless, Temporary Failure would Result. Regardless of the Son of God’s prayers for him, Peter would indeed fail. His human faithlessness would be revealed. But his failure would drive him back to his compassionate, restorative Savior.
Jesus remarks on that restoration and reconciliation before the fact (here in Luke 22:32) Here we see a picture of how God offers total forgiveness to those who would repent of the weakness and failures and turn to Him. He knows our failure and still extends his hand graciously to the believer who trusts him.”
Think about all of those examples that the Bible gives us of those who have been sifted like wheat. Probably the first person we think of is Job.
How would like to be Job. God essentially offered him up to Satan to be tested.
Job 1:8 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
I don’t know about you but I don’t think I want God bragging to the devil about me. He essentially says to Lucifer – Let’s put Job to the test. Whew – And Job was sifted like wheat! Satan said, take away everything he has and he will curse you to your face. And what do we expect that God would say to Satan? No you can’t do that – I love Job I won’t let you test him like that! Is that what God says? NO! He says go ahead take it all, but you can’t touch his person.
God gives him permission. And Satan reveals his destructive power. The sifting process begins, Job is removed from his life giving source. All kinds of things happen to take away his trust in God. All 10 of his children are killed, all of his wealth vanishes in one day.
But Job recognizes that God is charge of all things and if this was happening to him God is allowing it and praises God in spite of all that has happened.
So how does Satan respond? He says of course Job still loves you, but take away his health and surely he will curse you to your face. So God says No- that would be too much you can’t do that. Is that what God says? NO- He says go ahead, take his health – but you can’t take his life.
Brothers and sisters what do we expect from God? God doesn’t always do what we think He should. We might ask the question why doesn’t God prevent cancer, heart attacks, divorce, loss of jobs, loss of children? He lets Satan sift like wheat – that brutal process of separating the wheat from the chaff.
And praise God that He says yes you can do that but you can’t take his life.
Have you noticed that Jesus’ goal is always polar opposite of Satan’s. Satan unlocked and unleashed his arsenal for Job’s and Peter’s destruction, but we must never forget that all his attacks were kept in check by the sovereign God who possesses all wisdom and has purposes that cannot be seen by us. Both Job’s and Peter’s faith would fail for a time, but not be completely destroyed.
Jesus told Peter that after that sifting process, that he would be restored to the Savior, Peter would be equipped to “strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Satan’s diabolical work would indeed be used for God’s higher, holier purposes.
There are many more examples of this sifting process in the bible. There’s the story of Joseph who was sold by his brothers into slavery. There’s the widow of Nain who lost her husband and then her son, who was her only source of lively hood who also died. There’s the story of Naomi and Ruth, Esther and Mordecai. The woman’s who husband died and left her with a pile of debt and so many others who were allowed to go through one tragedy after another.
But let’s go back and look at our story of Peter. Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him 3 times before the rooster would crow. But notice what happened before Peter’s denial.
Matthews account tells us they went to the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus took Peter, James and John a little further into the garden and notice what He said to them.
Luke 22:40 Jesus said, “pray that you may not enter into temptation
But what happened? They fell asleep.
Read Matthew 26:40 – 41
Notice that He specifically said to Peter - He said, why aren’t you praying? I warned you that Satan wanted to sift you like wheat, I warned you that you were going to fall away, I warned you that you needed to pray, and here you are sleeping.
I don’t know about you, but I usually say something foolish when I am not guarding my words. If I do something foolish it’s because I am not paying attention to what’s going on around me. If I fall into temptation it’s because I haven’t been praying for the Lord’s protection and deliverance from evil.
I don’t know about you but I would not choose for myself to be sifted. I do not like trouble and difficulty in my life but notice that after have gone through his own sifting process that Peter tells us
1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the geniuses of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus
James 1: 2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing
I ask you the question this morning brothers and sisters, what are peter and James telling us? They’re telling us, “This is good.”
We may not like it, it might be painful but God is allowing this sifting process, God is allowing this trial and difficulties into your life, because it’s for your good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
So we see the controversy don’t we? Satan wants to sift us like wheat. He wants to destroy, bludgeon and kill. But God allows it to mold and fashion us into the image of Christ. He loves us and wants the best for us and sometimes the best thing for us is to go through that brutal process of being sifted.
Because you see brothers and sisters when you are sifted all of the chaff all of the impurities are all removed and all that remains is the pure grain.
Amos 9:9 For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in the sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
You see brothers and sisters when God allows you to be sifted He gives all of the chaff, all of the stubble, all of the impurities to Satan, but he keeps for Himself the wheat.
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.
"Maybe," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.
"Maybe," replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.
You see brothers and sisters maybe this is good.
Are any of you hurting this morning? Have you been faced with challenges in your life? Have things been going in a way you didn’t expect?
God is in charge isn’t He? Maybe this is good. Maybe God has you right where He wants you. Can you trust God this morning to work it all out for you?
Can you come to Him this morning and say, Lord I trust you, and Lord I give it all to you today?
Is that the desire of your heart?