We all experience troubles. Each of us has pain. We wonder what God is doing. Bad things aren't supposed to happen to good people.
Lawrence says what is behind what is happening is found in Luke 22:31-32. Jesus has pulled back the curtain on the spirit world. Lawrence takes his readers through the seven sentence fragments in those verses.
God calls us by name. He knows each one of us.
Satan is our enemy. He is a illusionist. “...[H]e has no real legal power or authority of his own, so he must steal our by deceiving us.” (75) Satan is detailed, organized and shrewd. He is systematic in his “sifting.” The “you” is plural. Although Jesus mentions Peter by name, all of the disciples (and all Christians) will be sifted. Satan's motivation is our destruction, but God uses it for good. God using Satan's sifting for good “is an explanation of His genius and a summation of His redemptive strategies in our lives.” (112) The essential work of sifting is revelation. Our true identity is revealed through suffering.
“But.” That little word makes all the difference. God is unfailingly kind. Sometimes the kindest act is not the most pleasant. As Satan accuses day and night, Jesus is continually making intercession for us.
Jesus' intersession is centered on our faith, that it would not fail. Lawrence gives insights to keeping faith at the level needed. Our faith grows in relation to how often and how deeply we listen to Jesus. (192)
Jesus knew Peter would “turn back” and survive the sifting. Jesus was not worried about Peter and He is not worried about us.
Jesus predicted Peter would strengthen others. After the sifting Peter would have something great to give others. It was to Peter Jesus would say, “Feed my sheep.” We give to others of the strength we receive from Jesus.
Lawrence concludes, “Only those who have been sifted like wheat, then have offered themselves as food for God's beloved, have the clarity to proclaim that, in truth, they love God unconditionally...” (261)
This is an excellent book to give to someone who is being sifted. Finally, a theology of suffering that is biblical and compassionate. The is will certainly be an encouragement to anyone who reads it.
Rick Lawrence is the longtime editor of GROUP magazine and co-leader of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. He is a frequent conference speaker and prolific author. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.
See more at www.SiftedBook.com.
David C Cook, 300 pages.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.