Why Good People Have Trouble
Dr B R Lakin
 
 
 

    Satan has always harried Christians with this question, Why good people have trouble. If the enemy of the souls of men can inject a doubt as to the wisdom of God by asking Why?", "How?" or "When?", he will have raised a question as to His omniscience.

    I wish to point out, by the use of the Scriptures, that there are reasons "why the righteous suffer," and that they are all a part of the beautiful scheme of God's dealing with mankind. Just as in all things that God orders or permits, there is design, and there is a divine reason for the suffering of God's children.

    First of all:

I. SUFFERING MAY BE ''CHASTENING"

    "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." (Hebrews 12:6.)

    Because we as God's children are often disobedient, we need and receive the chastening of our Heavenly Father. Chastening may not always be in the form of physical suffering, but often it is.

    Not only is chastening of God, but it proves our sonship. "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Hebrews 12:7.)

    Not only is it God's design that we be chastened, but it is His desire that we "endure this chastening" as sons.

    Many Christians chafe under the chastening hand of God. Satan causes them to ask, "Why?" This "Why" reveals a lack of knowledge of our own guilt and unworthiness. For if we would look into the black depths of our hearts and see all of the fleshly selfishness there, we would not wonder that God, through affliction, is trying to purge out the dross of our lives in the "furnace of suffering."

    If we could see the end from the beginning, as God does, we would laugh through our tests to see the wonderful improvement which our Heavenly Father's chastisement works in our lives. Children never appreciate correction when they are enduring it; but in later years, when they have children of their own, they gain an appreciation of their father's chastisement, and reverence him for his discipline which made for better and stronger character. "Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?" (Hebrews 12:9.)

    We would do well to recognize affliction as often being the chastisement of the Lord, and make the days of quiet suffering a time for spiritual introspection and inventory.

    There is a story of a highland shepherd who grew weary of the "bell sheep" leading the flock into dangerous and precipitous slopes. One day, in desperation, he deliberately broke the sheep's leg, and, after it healed, it had learned its lesson. It never walked in forbidden paths again. Sickness and affliction have often been the processes whereby the Good Shepherd has made His sheep better.

    As the musician tightens the strings on his violin almost to the breaking point, that he might attune them to the harmonies of the infinite, so God, through affliction, tunes His children to Himself that they might sing to the praise of His glory.

    Remember that God's chastening is in love, and for your profit. ". . . But He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness." (Hebrews 12:10.)

    David said, "Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." It is generally known that the "staff" was used by the shepherd to keep the sheep from getting in "forbidden paths," but the "rod" was used to whip the sheep when he wandered away. David, wisely, found comfort in both the staff and the rod. Chastisement in the life of a growing child is just as essential to the development of his character as precept. It is the way we learn that it "does not pay to do wrong."

    So, chastisement, whether in the form of affliction, or anguish in another form, is all in the divine process, and is intended for our profit and good. Just as the husbandman cuts back the vines that they might produce better, the Good Husbandman of the skies often lets the knife of affliction fall upon us, that we might bear more abundant fruits of righteousness.

 
II. SUFFERING AS A MINISTRY
 

    "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." (I Peter 5:10.)

    Job was called to a ministry of suffering, and his patience in  affliction made him an example that has survived the centuries. The world, with its material philosophy, reasons that Christians serve God with an ulterior motive. Job's accusers said, in effect, "Sure, you serve God! Look at your broad acres of rich soil, and your fat herds of cattle, and your stout houses and barns. Doth Job serve God for naught?"

    But God had called Job to a ministry of suffering, and He permitted Satan to take everything away from him except his life. "And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself [his life] put not forth thy hand." (Job 1:12.)

    Satan took Job's cattle, his herds of sheep, his servants, his children and his houses, but Job arose and said, "The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

    Satan approached the Lord again and said, "All that a man hath he will give for his life. But put forth Thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face." (Job 2:5.)
 
 
    Satan then afflicted Job with boils from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet, and he took a potsherd to scrape himself withal, and he sat down among the ashes, but the record says, "In all this did not Job sin with his lips."

    He was a minister of suffering, and his patience in affliction was a greater sermon to the gainsayers of his day than the eloquence of the ancient prophets. A broken vial of perfume produces more fragrance than a whole one. Sometimes our lives, like the alabaster box, must be shattered by affliction, so the beauty of Jesus may be seen in us.

    Fanny Crosby lost her eyesight at an early age. Instead of being cynical about her seeming misfortune, she lifted her heart like a nightingale in the gloom of her darkness, and sang the hymns that have made her name immortal. She was called to a ministry of suffering, and responded to the divine call, and became a minister of joyfulness to untold millions.

    There was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the history of the world. It was presented to the King of England to shine in the crown of state. It was sent to Amsterdam, the diamond center of the world, to be cut. The greatest lapidary of them all was called in to cut the gem, and what do you suppose he did with it? He cut a notch in it; then, taking a chisel, he struck it a mighty blow, and it fell into two pieces. "What carelessness!" you say; but not so. For weeks this particular blow had been studied and planned. Charts had been made of the diamond, and experts had discussed how best to cut it to advantage. It was not a mistake; it was a crowning achievement of the diamond-cutting art, for the two gems which were cut from the rough diamond are today the pride of the Queen of England and the marvel of the world of jewels.

    Perhaps God has allowed a crushing blow to fall upon your life. It may seem, for the moment, to be an appalling mistake. But it isn't. You are "in His hand," and no man can take you out. In His infinite wisdom and love, He may allow you to suffer for a season, but He will bring you out as gold "tried by the fire."

    More eloquent than the ministry of preaching, singing or teaching is the ministry of suffering. If you are in the "furnace of affliction," remember, you should rejoice that He considered you strong enough to endure such a difficult ministry and serve Him faithfully.
 
 

III. SUFFERING AS TESTING
 

    "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (II Corinthians 12:10.)

    Affliction is a moral gymnasium where God's children are conditioned for the "race of life." Paul, the wise apostle, gloried in his infirmities, for by them his strength was made perfect.

    Jeremiah wrote of this great truth when he said, "Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." (Jeremiah 18:3, 4.)

    God, ofttimes through affliction, moulds, shapes and breaks our lives, and from the shapeless mass the worthless clay is fashioned into a thing of usefulness and beauty. Most of the great men of the centuries were refined and tested in the furnace of affliction.

    Paul and Silas, with their backs bleeding, and their feet and hands in stocks, might have let that experience in Phillipi discourage them, but they dared to "sing at midnight," and the greatest victory of their lives emerged from what seemed to be the greatest defeat. When "your back is against the wall," you are in an ideal position to fight back at life, and the winner is the one who can take the testings of affliction gracefully, believing implicitly that "all things work together for good to them that love God."

    Pearls are beautiful jewels, and possess a soft, delicate beauty unsurpassed by any other gems. They are the only costly jewels that have an animal origin. The lowly oyster is the ingenius creator of this gem. A foreign particle (perhaps a sharp piece of sand) finds its way inside the oyster shell. The oyster secretes a solution which covers
the foreign particle, and eventually the pearl is formed. It is the child of suffering.

    Our Heavenly Father permits the foreign particle of affliction to enter our lives. His grace, being sufficient, is lavished upon us, and we are actually made to "glory in our infirmities," for we know that we shall come through the experience with a new radiance to reflect His beauty.
 

IV. SUFFERING IS A TESTIMONY

 
    The Pharisees, at the sight of a sightless young man, said "Who did sin, this man or his parents?" Jesus answered, "Neither . . . but it is that the works of God might be made manifest."

    Affliction gives the Christian the opportunity to make the works of God manifest. God either gives healing grace or grace to endure. In the case of the man born blind, it was the works of God manifest in the miracle of healing, and God's name was glorified. Both with Paul, who suffered from a bodily infirmity, God gave him the grace of endurance, thus comprising a miracle as great as that of healing. I believe in divine healing, but I believe God often permits His children to suffer so the world may see the sweetness with which His children are able to endure their infirmities.

    To an inexperienced eye, a synthetic diamond is as brilliant as the genuine. But when these two stones are placed under water, the synthetic stone loses its brilliance while the genuine gains in luster. God sometimes leads His children through the "waters of affliction" that the world may behold our brilliance in the hour of trouble.
 

"Some through the waters,
Some through the flood;
Some through the fire,
But all through the blood.
Some through great trial,
But God gives a song,
In the night seasons and
All the day long."

 
    Yes, the Architect of our destinies, allows nothing to come to our lives, except that which is for our ultimate good and blessing.

    We can never realize that we have fully seen the Lord until we behold Him in the valley of the shadow of death. It is then that we can trustfully say, "I fear no evil for thou art with me." It is in the midst of life's storms that we hear His blessed words, "Peace be still!" Not until we pass through some bereavement, suffering or persecution, do we fully appreciate the Divine presence which sustains, comforts and gives peace in the tempest.

    Christ comes so much nearer the soul in the valley than He does on the mountain top. His presence is more keenly felt in the desert of suffering than it is in the Garden of Prosperity. It was in the Desert of Affliction that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and caused him to make that great decision of which it has been said, "Moses, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25)

    The night seasons of suffering increase our spiritual vision, and help us to see life in its true perspective. You may think you can see farther in the daytime than you can at night, but you can't. At night you can see the stars, and the nearest star is millions of miles away. You would do well to see a mile in the daylight. God, in His infinite wisdom knows when to draw the curtains of night over the soul, that in the gloom of affliction, our spiritual vision may be increased, and the beauty of our lives enhanced.
 

V. SUFFERING AS PARTICIPATION WITH CHRIST

 
    "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; and if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:17)

    Suffering with Christ! What a blessed privilege! The disciples rejoiced that their sufferings for Christ sake, identified them with the Lord. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts 5:41)

    Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. If we are to be identified with Him, we must be resigned to suffer for and with Him. As I have said many times, on a journey we are not so much concerned with the comforts en route as we are the joys upon the arrival at our destination. This world is not our home. We are as aliens
in a strange land on our journey home. Because "we are not of the world," the world hates us. They conspire to tear down our good name, and thus rob Him Who saved us of glory. We should be tolerant with a world which does not and cannot understand the mysteries of the things of God. We should remember Jesus' words when He said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Matthew 5:11.)

    They rejoice in our afflictions, and begrudge what little prosperity we enjoy, but thank God, Jesus said, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven." In these experiences, which may be inclined to make us cynical, we become participants with Christ. Christ was hated; we are hated. Christ was smitten; we are smitten. Christ was crucified; He said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Christ was afflicted; we are afflicted. He was wounded, bruised, and chastised, but as a sheep led to the slaughter, He opened not His mouth. His retort to their mockings and raileries was, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."

    If we are to participate with Christ, and be identified with Him, our reaction to persecution, suffering and affliction will be one of complete resignation to the will of God.

    "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." (II Corinthians 4:11.)


    Life is made more effulgent by suffering, pain and death. The singer with a broken heart sings with greater feeling and pathos than the one who has never tasted suffering.

    The rose bush is "cut" in order that it may blossom more beautifully. We are persecuted, maligned and afflicted that we may be recreated in the image of Christ. Disappointment is often HIS appointment, and "all things work together for good to them that love God."

    Why do the righteous suffer? Ah, the reasons are legion. But rest assured that no heartache, disappointment or affliction ever comes to the heart of one of God's children without His order and permission.

    I watched some stone workers hewing an odd shaped stone as it lay on the ground. "What are you going to do with that?" I asked. "We are cutting it here, so it will fit in up there," the worker answered, pointing to an opening high on the tower of the great building.

    In our affliction down here, the Master Mason is shaping us and fashioning us, according to His omniscient design, so we will fit in up There.

    Dr B R Lakin