We’re finally nearing the end of the study about the Lord’s Prayer. The last time, we talked about the difficulties surrounding the request, “Lead us not into temptation (or trial).” We noticed that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil and understood that the Lord will bring trials to our lives to test us. Perhaps we’ll understand this request about not being led into temptation better when we look at the last half of the sentence: “but deliver us from evil (or the evil one)”.  Jesus seems to be teaching us to pray that when we are tempted, or even led to a place of trial or temptation by His Spirit, that the devil won’t achieve a victory as a result of that trial.

Consider these words which Jesus spoke to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32). The question I ask is, “Why didn’t Jesus rebuke the devil when He realized that he wanted to sift Peter like wheat?”  I was taught very early in my Christian life that I should rebuke the devil. Well, we are taught to resist him so that he will flee from us. Whether that means to rebuke him or not, I don’t know. I’ve found in my life that resisting the devil is very simple. I just pray what Jesus taught us. When I feel the pressure coming on, I simply pray, “Father, deliver me from evil.” The pressure has always left. Now, that doesn’t mean that the attack stops or that I might not have to pray this way for a while—perhaps quite a while. What I mean to say is that resisting the devil doesn’t require a lot of histrionics or falderal.

But back to Peter. It’s clear that Jesus was going to allow Peter and the other followers to be sifted like wheat. I’m not sure if Jesus was referring to flour being sifted in order to make bread or the process of tossing both wheat and chaff up into the air to separate it. Regardless, it sounds a bit topsy turvy to me and probably unpleasant. But the Lord has a wonderful—perhaps it’s more accurate to say, wonderfully sovereign way—of using the icky things that Satan does to work for our ultimate good and His glory. In Peter’s case, it was so that, after he’d repented, he could strengthen his brothers. I would think that that strengthening had to do with mercy, grace and forgiveness.

We often turn to the story of Job in order to help us understand the nature of trial and/or suffering. Job’s ultimate victory wasn’t that the Lord gave him twice as much as he had before. Let’s be honest. After the deaths of your kids, you may have more kids than you had before, but the loss of those first children will create a wound that you will carry around for the rest of your life. No, Job’s victory is summed up in this statement that he made, after all the suffering had been absorbed into his soul: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5–6 ESV).

The question of “Why did the Lord allow this suffering to happen?” is not answered for Job, and it won’t be answered for us. The Lord could tell us, I suppose, but the answer would be too big for us to understand—something like trying to pour the Pacific Ocean into a thimble. But there is one thing we do understand: Our suffering drives us to Him, where “our eyes see Him.” What will we see? His sovereignty, for starters. That was a large part of what Job understood. However, as the story unfolds, we also recognize that there is no greater thing in our lives on this earth than knowing Him—greater even than our children and certainly, our goods. And if we come to this realization, we will understand that He is good, that He is love. Again, we may not understand why He had to do what He did to get us there, but ultimately, it’s because He loves us.

It’s that love that is the victory. Paul asked what could separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing, apparently. We can read the list in Romans 8:25. No, Paul wrote, in all these things, these terrible trials, we overwhelming conquer. How? By a restoration of our stuff? By things turning out just right and happy happy? No. We overwhelmingly conquer through “Him who loved us.” Knowing that He loves us. That’s where Christian victory lies.