When we pray and don’t see answers, we often get discouraged. Like, maybe we’re not prayerful enough. Maybe we don’t have enough faith. Maybe we’ve sinned and this is our just punishment. And in our discouragement, we often find ourselves drifting slowly away from God…
““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.”” Luke 22:31-32
There was this one time in the Bible when Jesus prayed for His friend. You see, God had revealed it to Jesus that Peter would go through some tough times. And, like the Son of God that He is, Jesus knew the next thing to do was to pray.
But even though Jesus knew, and even though Jesus prayed, Peter still denied Jesus.
“Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”” Luke 22:33-34
Hang on a minute. If Jesus prayed, and Jesus is God, then why did Peter still have to go through the denial process? Why did he still suffer the pain of feeling distant from God? Why did Satan still sift Peter like wheat?
“This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:27
Satan had a plan: to shake Peter up.
God had a plan: to shake Peter up. The difference in their plans was the outcome.
Satan planned to shake Peter, discourage him, make him feel like he was unfit to serve Jesus, and ultimately make him quit his God-given purpose.
God planned to shake Peter out of his comfort zone so that he would learn to rely on Him.
You see, Peter was bold, loud, confident, always asking questions, and he was self-assured. But to do God’s work, self-reliance must give way to God-reliance. As human beings, the unfortunate truth is that until we are shaken up out of our comfort zones, we do not learn to rely entirely on God.
““And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”” Luke 22:32
A lot of us get caught up in this question of purpose: what are we here for? How can we serve God? How can we find out our Purpose? One great place to look for your purpose is in your pain.
Think about it, who would you trust for advise, the person who has never been tempted, or the person who has gone through the same temptation you’re facing and has come out of it?
The reason many of us are so disillusioned with the Church is that we don’t believe they understand us. It’s easy to talk about purity when you don’t understand sexual addiction. It’s easy to say, “don’t think about money,” when you haven’t experienced hunger. It’s easy to say, “have faith” when you haven’t experienced disappointment.
Peter was called to bring people to God. In order to do that, he had to understand what it was like to feel like he wasn’t worthy of God. Everything he went through was for them – for us.
“It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you…” 1 Peter 1:12
We are meant to go through some tough times. It is our pain that births our purpose. The process builds our faith. And even when it doesn’t look like it, God is true to His word. Don’t be discouraged.