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.” 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.
This is the kind of book that is going to take a second look on my part when I can take my time and use it as a study, not when I'm trying to finish it quickly for a book review. It is definitely a subject worth studying and the author takes us through step by step, breaking down Luke 22: 31-32, section by section. I really liked that format as each thing Jesus said in those couple of sentences is looked at and explored in detail. I did find the book a bit of a tough go in the very beginning because I had to get used to the author's writing style, which goes from teaching to using story examples very frequently, sometimes with several examples for the point he is trying to make. Nothing wrong with that, it's just not my particular favorite. It's a tough subject and one I think we have to face our own resistance to and I think the author dealt with it well, exploring the sifting using scripture throughout and examples from his own life. While some of the thoughts and teaching in the first half are challenging, they are definitely worth exploring and the second half of the book is full of hope and encouragement.
Thanks to B&B Media group for providing a free copy for review and my honest opinions. All opinions expressed are my own.