Sifted

 

by Rick Lawrence

 

David C. Cook

 

Reader Appeal: Adult

 

Genre: Christian Living

 

PopFam Rating: A

 

What kind of a loving God would allow his people to endure so much suffering?

 

This is a question that has plagued the Christian community for as long as it has stood. It's easy to say things like… "It's not for us to know", or, "Someday we'll understand", but what do you tell someone who is suffering right now? Is it possible to provide an answer that will comfort rather than harm?

 

Rick Lawrence sets out to answer the question of suffering by breaking down two easy-to-overlook verses of Scripture: Luke 22:31-32, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

 

I’ve heard numerous sermons on Job and his great suffering. I’ve listened to preachers talk at length about the Apostle Paul and the "thorn in the flesh" he complained of. Yet I’ve never heard anyone really dig into Luke 22:31-32 before. Sure, I've read it… but like a lot of people, I figured Jesus was just predicting Peter’s soon-to-come denial of him, and thought nothing more of it.

 

In Sifted, Rick Lawrence breaks down all the factors, as well as the hardships, of being tested. He speaks eloquently about "rock eating termites" that aim to break down even the strongest of individuals. He explores not just the “what” of these experiences, but also the “why.” Sifted breaks down Luke 22:31-32 in a way that leads the reader first from Jesus’ unique use of the name “Simon” instead of Peter, to the request made from Satan to "sift" Simon, to the response of Jesus to the presumptuous request.

 

I enjoy books like this, and when I first picked this one up, one person came to my mind who has been sifted a lot lately: my 29 year old sister who is fighting cancer for the second time. Since childhood, she's been the strongest person I know and here she is, week after week enduring hard chemo therapy treatments, getting sick and having to live though so much pain. Her name popped into my head when I began to read Sifted, and by the end of it, I was racing out to buy a copy for her.

 

Rick is gentle in his approach, but firm at the same time. He explains the literal and spiritual meanings of sifting, and points the reader to reasons we must go through it. In order for the good in us to be revealed, we must first go through a process to strip away what is not good. Satan puts us through hardships because he truly believes we will turn away from God. Christ allows the hardship because he knows that we will endure, and in the end be transformed into something even more beautiful. After all, even Jesus knew he would be sifted like the wheat, only to rise up again and return to his Father.

 

I highly recommend this book, not just for people who are well, but for those who feel they have been "sifted like wheat." I’m excited to share it with my family and look forward to hearing more from Rick Lawrence in the future.

 

Let’s Talk About It

 

If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:

 

• How do you think the literal action of sifting wheat applies to the way we are spiritually sifted?

 

• What can you do to make sure your faith is strong in hard times?

 

• What does it mean to you that Jesus went through the same hardships that we have to endure? How does His sacrifice influence your view on suffering?

 

--RM

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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