"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," (Luke 22:31-32).
Have you ever perceived yourself to be at one place spiritually only to discover that you were actually far from this place? Peter perceived himself to be so spiritually strong that he was prepared to suffer greatly for his Master. Yet Jesus knew where Peter really was in his own pilgrimage. He knew that Peter's enthusiasm did not match his reality. He was suffering from an attitude of self-righteousness. So, how did Jesus help Peter match his perception to his reality? Peter was the object of a divine setup.
First, notice that Satan asked permission to sift Peter as wheat. Jesus determined that Satan would be used to bring Peter to the maturity level both Jesus and Peter really desired. And Jesus was praying that Peter would pass the test. Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times that very day. Peter could not believe what Jesus was saying.
Sometimes the lessons we must learn are very painful. This experience was necessary in Peter's life. It was necessary to purge Peter from his sin of self-righteousness. This very lesson would allow Peter to come face to face with his own misperception of where he was in his relationship and devotion to Jesus. When he was forced to confront this, it nearly broke him apart. He wept bitterly once he realized he had done just as Jesus had predicted.
This confrontation with reality is necessary at times in our lives. Do not be surprised if Jesus allows you to experience some painful circumstance. You may be the subject of a divine setup designed to bring you to a greater maturity level in your walk with Jesus. It may not be a fun experience when you go through it, but you will, like Peter, become a leader whom God will use to lead others.