Suffering and the Saints

Pastor John David Clark, Sr. - August, 1989

In the late afternoon of August 23,1981, I was at my desk studying the matter of suffering. The attitudes toward suffering which the Biblical men and women of greatest faith demonstrate is so comforting and challenging, and the instructions given to the Church concerning how to face trials inspires faith and communicates great love, a love which can come only from God. But on that Sunday evening, as I pondered the Scriptures, little did I know that Jesus had especially ordained that study, and was prepared to visit me with a revelation of his goodness, wisdom, and power, such as I had only dreamed.

As I concluded my study and was folding up my Bible and my notes, the Lord calmly and clearly spoke to me, and when He did, my whole life was immediately and irrevocably changed. All the studying I had just completed, I had not understood, though I was blessed by the Spirit in what I had read. But I understood it now. In awe of the depth of what God had shown me, I rose up, literally dazed at the majesty of it, slowly walked through the house and stood on my front porch, peering into the darkening sky, in profound amazement at the glory and the love of God. I tell you, it seemed as if both the heavens and the earth were new. Such is the cleansing power of the living Word of God.

I have some reservations about doing so, because of the oddness of it, but all things considered I think I should tell you the exact words which the Spirit spoke to me that night. The Spirit said, "It tickles the devil for God's people to blame their troubles on him." Ponder over this startling statement for a just a moment, if you will. It is the Word of God that came to me.

IT TICKLES THE DEVIL FOR GOD'S PEOPLE TO BLAME THEIR TROUBLES ON HIM.

Believe me, I know how strange it must sound to many of you. After all, Satan is described as the one who "deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). He is a liar, just as Jesus said he is, "and the father of it." Then (one would naturally think), if he deceives the whole world and is the father of lies, and if he is our "enemy", seeking whom he may devour, then why should we not blame our troubles on him? And if not on Satan, then on whom should the blame lie? God’s answer is staggering to consider. Rather than tell you myself, I'll allow the righteous men of the Bible to speak.

Joseph, who tore you away from your family when you were 17 years old and sold you into slavery?

"God sent me."

But why would God cause you to suffer so terribly, Joseph?

"God meant it unto good, to bring it to pass . . . to save much people alive."

Your cruel brothers thought it was their idea to sell you into slavery, Joseph. How did you explain the truth to them, when they discovered that you were ruler in Egypt?

"Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. . . . So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God"

Thank you, Joseph. And amen to that.

What about you, Job? God Himself considered you to be a "perfect and upright man." Your words concerning suffering should be heard. Can you summarize your experience?

"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

So, Job, you never thought of Satan as the author of your trials!

"Not at all."

"And he was right to do so."

Who said that?

"I, the preacher . . . king over Israel in Jerusalem. I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven"

Solomon!

That's right. And I can vouch for the wisdom of Job's words. This miserable earthly existence is not Satan's creation.

Then who is responsible?

"This sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith"

I'm proud of you son. You spoke the truth.

Father!

King David? Is that you?

Yes. And I can see that my son Solomon remembered the truth I taught him. Would you object if I added a word here? Thank you. It is true that Satan exists, and that he deceives men. But he does not punish men for sinning. That's God's business. And in my opinion, a man is blessed if God will condescend to chasten him when he does wrong. I see chastisement it as an act of loving kindness.

How did you pray, then, King David, when you sinned and God chastened you?

I said, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy Word....it is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. . . . I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. . . . The Lord hath chastened me sore: but He hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord."

If God is the One who afflicts, then should we not pray for more affliction?

Art thou nuts? Who in his right mind would pray for pain?

Pardon me, may I add a word here?

Elijah! Please do join us, and say what you will.

I knew that God was withholding the rain from Israel those three years, but I didn't pray for more drought. I prayed that the people would repent.

But when evil happens to God's people...

"There shall no evil happen to the just"

How can you say that, Solomon?

Because Solomon knows that "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

Paul!

That's right. And I know that in Christ we are more than conquerors. Have faith in God, son. Help him understand, brother Peter.

"Cast all your cares upon Him, my friend, for He careth for you."

As I wrote, before I turned my kingdom over to my son Solomon, "He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."

And you told the truth about me, my son.

LORD JESUS!!

Yes, and I approve of every word that these servants of mine have said. You men have written the truth concerning me. That's why I preserved those words in the bible. I desire so much for my people to learn to trust me and not to think that I have lost control of their lives when the hard times come.

I haven't dealt with any of them according to their sins. I will try the hearts of my people. My father requires it. But under no circumstances will any of my children be given more than he is able to bear. I, personally, will see to that. O! that my people knew me! O! that they really understood how precious they are to me! They would be so much happier, if they could only understand.


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