QUESTION: What Will Your Troubles Reveal About You?
Rick Lawrence explores God’s “sifting” to discover why we suffer in this life.
Worn down by the troubles in your life? Overwhelmed by piled-up problems? Worried about others who are hurting? In his book, Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand, Rick Lawrence offers fresh biblical perspective on pain, based on a single Scripture snapshot: Luke 22:31-32.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
These two simple verses from Luke’s account of the Last Supper launch a profound exploration of the meaning of trouble in a Christian’s life. Suffering is inevitable, and if we’re honest, the explanations commonly offered often just don’t hold up or help very much. But Jesus’ perfect metaphor of sifting provides fresh perspective on why we suffer and what the sifting process can reveal in our lives.
Peter was to be “sifted like wheat”—shaken hard, beaten, and finally separated from his false identity. Satan was the one causing it, but Jesus would allow it. Lawrence’s verse-by-verse exploration offers insight, comfort, challenge, and a call to greater intimacy with the God who allows our pain because He wants us to know who we really are and what we can become.
If we believe that Christians are still sifted today, why do we so often judge those who are experiencing hardships? They must have done something wrong. God must be punishing them. But suffering is inevitable, whether it comes in the form of life-shifting catastrophe or the drip-drip-dripping of daily troubles. Sifted will encourage those who are facing trouble now and those who will face it in the future. It will encourage us to see our pain as a means to greater knowledge and intimacy with Christ. Lawrence offers a rigorously honest, deeply challenging, yet powerfully comforting exploration of the trials that beat us down, the good God who allows our troubles, and the incredible beauty the process of sifting can reveal in us.
About the Author: Rick Lawrence has been editor of GROUP Magazine, the world’s most widely read resource for Christian youth leaders, for 23 years and is the co-leader of The Simply Youth Ministry Conference. In his role as “Youth Ministry Champion” at Group Publishing, he leads the organization’s expeditionary efforts to challenge, encourage, and equip youth pastors. Lawrence has authored hundreds of magazine articles and is the author, co-author, or editor of 31 books, including JCQ’s: 150 Jesus-Centered Discussion Questions, Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry, and the adult/teenager small-group curricula Make Their Day and Ten Tough Things. He’s a consultant to national research organizations and a frequent conference and workshop speaker. Lawrence and his wife, Beverly Rose, live with their two daughters in Denver, CO.
“Sifted” by Rick Lawrence
David C Cook/August 2011/ISBN: 978-1-4347-0074-2/300 pages/paperback/$14.99
Rick Lawrence, in his book, Sifted, displays our lives through the eyes God. It’s based on Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Rick’s book is divided into the following chapters:
- 1. “Simon, Simon…”
- 2. “Satan has asked…”
- 3. “To sift you like wheat…”
- 4. “But I have prayed for you, Simon…”
- 5. “That your faith may not fail…”
- 6. “And when you have turned back…”
- 7. “Strengthen your brothers.”
Each chapter is packed with spiritual truths that will help us grow in the Lord if we are willing to abide. Breaking down Luke 8:31-32 into the chapter sections that he did, truths are extrapolated that one might otherwise overlook. They bring more meaning to this Scripture, with the purpose of letting us know that we all will be sifted, but He is with us and intercedes for us, Romans 8:34, “…who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Though I do not agree with Rick’s version of name choosing in chapter one, I can agree with most of the balance of the book. It’s not a quick overview, but an in-depth look into what this Scripture meant to Peter and what it means to us. When you read his book, you will find that Rick has put in extensive research and study to present this dissertation.
Rick’s personal testimonies, along with the writings of others who have been sifted, help us to look at the process as the love of God in action to mature us in Christ. Initially, the Scripture was spoken to Peter, to encourage him back into the fold. However, I believe it speaks to all Christians in their walk with the Lord, is deeply challenging, and displays the real you.
Rick’s use of the b-word reflects poorly on the Christian view, but it is used only a couple of times. Use God’s grace and push beyond it, as he has much meat to share with us. It’s a book that will encourage you, though at times it may not seem like it.
The words following “But” absolutely pump me, knowing Jesus is interceding for us. John 16:33b, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” THAT is the great “But”!
The only thing missing is a study guide!
This book was provided by Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group, Inc., in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.