Luke 22:31-32(New Century Version)
31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to test all of you as a farmer sifts his wheat. 32 I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me."
If you are the baker in the family you are very familiar with sifting flour. Sifting is defined as "To put (flour, for example) through a sieve or other straining device in order to separate the fine from the coarse particles"*. It is a way to remove impurities from what your mixing so that whatever you are baking has the perfect texture. If you love baked goods like me, you really like the outcome of this step in the process.
Jesus used the example of sifting wheat when the disciples were gathered in the upper room just before Christ's crucifixion. He had just completed sharing the Passover meal and using it to establish His new covenant that we call "Holy Communion". The disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in God's kingdom, and Jesus was growing very weary of the argument. Even though Jesus had tried to tell them numerous times, none of them really had a clue what was about to happen.
Peter being the leader among them, and probably the one with the largest ego in the group, was about to have his ego leveled and his true character tested, and Jesus was giving this very arrogant man a warning. God was about to allow Satan to put him through his most important testing of his life, and Jesus was praying that he would withstand that test. Peter was about to under go "sifting" that would remove the coarseness and shallowness within him, and purify him in a manner that would develop him for future leadership of the new Christian church. If he made it through this testing, then he would be able to handle the opposition after the departure of Jesus Christ.
Here lately, I have often felt that I have been going through alot of sifting, and the way things are in the world, I am sure that there are many of you going through the same thing. I hate to let everyone know, but this is a time that God is developing our characters, preparing us for tougher times in the years ahead. The great thing about trials and difficulties is that after you go through enough of it, you resign yourself to not thinking that you can do it all; you learn that the only way to make it is with God's help.
If life has you being pressed through the sifter right now, make sure that you are staying close to Jesus. If you aren't, don't worry, your time will come. Remember though, Jesus will be with you to comfort you, and He will strengthen you through the process.
* Definition from the Free Online Dictionary/sift
Photo from "Mule Team on the Move", Muhlestein Family adventures and travels, posted 6-10-2011