I remember the first time I saw a solar eclipse as a child. A total solar eclipse could be frightening for people who are unaware of its explanation, as the Sun seems to disappear in the middle of the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes. For me, it has since become a wonderful illustration of transformation in suffering.
While talking with a friend last week, I was reminded of this as our conversation turned to the suffering of Job,
a righteous man
, given so much to bear. My friend and I talked about the exchange of words between God and Satan recorded in the first chapter of the Book of Job. After some debate about Job’s commitment to trust God in all circumstances, God gives Satan permission to
bring on the suffering
I began to reflect upon a similar event recorded in the New Testament. Jesus declares to Simon Peter in Luke 22:31-32, that Satan has
permission to bring suffering into the lives of righteous individuals. Jesus says:
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail;
and you, when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
To be totally transparent here, I am a bit uneasy by what Jesus
say to Satan. I would prefer to hear Jesus say:
Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
but I have told him “
I am not a student of Greek, but there are times when knowing the original language can grow us. That is the case for me in these words of Jesus. A deeper look at Luke 22:31-32 helps me understand the power in Jesus’ prayer.
Jesus’ words, “
that your faith may not fail
” are really metaphorical. In the Greek, Jesus says, “
I have prayed . . . that your faith may not
.” Our word
comes from this Greek word, e
. It means to darken, obscure or diminish in importance; to surpass or outshine.
Jesus is saying to Simon Peter, just before His own crucifixion, and to us today, “
I have prayed . . . that your faith may not be darkened, obscured or diminished from what Satan may bring into your path
And the image of that first solar eclipse I saw as a child comes to mind.
, like the moon itself, seems to orbit around my life on a fairly regular basis because of choices I make that are not the best for me or Satan’s desire to sift me like wheat. Satan wants this suffering to darken and diminish my faith and hope in the Lord.
I don’t know about you, but the image of an eclipse is powerful to me. Jesus’ words indicate that it is possible for MY FAITH to be stronger, deeper, wider ~ to literally shine through SUFFERING. It is possible for me to not be destroyed, but rather transformed. These changes will not destroy me, but can give me a chance to speak of a faith that is firm and cannot be eclipsed!