In his best seller, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren begins by saying “It's not about you”. I have talked to people who were immediately offended by this and wanted to stop reading right there. It's easy to understand why. We are surrounded by messages that scream, “Life is all about me”. We hear this from advertisers marketing products that promise to make us feel, look, smell and appear great. We hear from politicians that voting for them will make our lives easier, wealthier and healthier. Then we read in the Bible a conversation that Jesus has with one of His disciples, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32) Here Jesus is telling Peter that God is allowing him to be severely tested at the hands of Satan and we will see this come to pass later in chapter 22. I imagine that many of us would think that God should have shielded Peter from the temptation coming his way but God sees things differently. Our heavenly Father sees that Peter needs to learn to trust and obey so the opportunity is presented from him to display courage and faith. He also sees that Peter’s life is an example that others are watching so his faithful obedience or lack of it has a significant influence on others. God also knows that if Peter repents of his failure that he will then be able to offer grace and hope to others who fail too.
I have been meditating on this verse and it is unsettling and encouraging at the same time. Unsettling because it reminds me that I too will face Satan’s attacks as long as I live. If he wasn’t shy about taking on Jesus (see Matthew 4) then I need to expect the same. But this passage in Luke is encouraging too because it shows that Jesus is aware of my Peter-like weaknesses and is praying for me too. Here is a companion verse that I urge you to memorize and keep handy, “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”(Romans 8:34)
There is a much bigger story than yours or mine that God is writing!