It was almost the end of the twentieth century as men would mark time. There were believers in the land who loved and served God and honored His Beloved Son Who had redeemed them from all their iniquities and gathered them unto Himself outside the camp. There were many others in different places who did the same, but the faithfulness of some exceeded others.
And there came a time when Satan presented himself before God. And the Lord said unto Satan, “Have you been considering my servants on the earth? I notice that you hate their godly fear and the lovely Christlike behavior they exhibit. I have observed that you cringe when some preach the gospel of My Son Emanuel and warn sinners of your lies and deception. You are extremely jealous of their holy worship and devotion and wish you had it for yourself.”
And Satan answered boldly, “Yes, I have been watching your servants in Nova Scotia and in New Brunswick, on PEI and in Massachusetts, and the saints in Iowa and Ontario and Ireland and Brazil and Venezuela and all over the globe. But, they’re all the same and they love You because You treat them so well, and they worship and adore You because You are such a good Father to them. But, of course, if they were visited with ill health and bad luck (as they say) and tragedy and heartache and disaster, they wouldn’t give You a second thought. Most of them would mistrust Your goodness and question Your will and wisdom and a few might even curse You in their anger and dismay.”
And the Lord God looked lovingly at His children on earth and He said to Satan, “We have been over this many times before and always you have been rebuffed and proven wrong. Don’t you remember my servant Job whom you afflicted most severely – how did that turn out? Or my beloved Paul, whom you ‘pressed above measure, so that he despaired even of life?’ You forget easily, don’t you? How about the whole assembly at Smyrna which you savagely and mercilessly attacked for years to turn them away – what was the outcome? I could proceed through the years and mention many more, as the Waldenses and the Covenanters, my beloved saints ‘of whom the world was not worthy.’ Answer me the truth now. You can lie to men; you cannot lie to God.”
But Satan answered, “Yes, that’s true, but times have changed tremendously in the world. These are days of great enlightenment and knowledge and you’ll notice that more people worship me than ever before.” And God quietly replied, “What does that have to do with My people?” And Satan hissed, “The Christians are not the same as they used to be. Their love for you is shallow and feigned. Your servants like Job and David and Paul and John Bunyan are long gone. They’re a thing of the past!” – he grew more agitated – “Now You treat them too well. You build a hedge, You … .”
But the Lord said, “Be still, Satan” and he immediately stopped his ranting. And the Lord’s heart was moved as He considered His people and He knew that Satan’s accusations were vicious lies, but He said to Satan, “Go ahead – do what you will – test them, prove them – see what results.”
Then the adversary unleashed a vicious attack on little families on earth. All over the countryside he battered God’s people with deadly diseases like cancer, and a new thing the doctors called Epstein-Barr. He devastated their homes by removing fathers and mothers and children where they were needed most, and he broke their hearts and smashed their sons and daughters under the angry waves of his envy and fury and his hatred of their heavenly Father. As in Job’s day, every time the phone rang, it was another report which left the saints reeling and bewildered. They were numb with sorrow and their lives lay in shambles.
And God allowed it all to happen. He tenderly watched while the little flock was buffeted, and when the enemy exceeded his bounds and tried the weak above their limit, He graciously stepped in and relieved the pressure with His kind, all-powerful hand. “In all their afflictions, He was afflicted,” and troubled Himself as they were troubled, and was touched as they were touched. The devastation raged on unceasingly, and the wicked one said, “Aha – NOW we’ll see how their faith fails and they curse their all-loving God and Father.”
But to his devilish amazement it didn’t turn out the way he expected. The weeping saints quietly buried their dead, and devotedly visited their sick ones, and cared for the broken-hearted. They didn’t understand at all, but they looked up to the Father through their tears and trusted and clung to Him more than ever. They worshiped more devotedly and loved His blessed Son more fervently and waited expectantly for His return. They cried from the depths of their hearts, “Even so come Lord Jesus.”
All over the globe they felt the impact of the attacks on their brethren and they fell on their knees and prayed more earnestly. They opened their hearts and their hands to one another and God poured out His great grace and compassion upon them more abundantly. He drew them closer to His breast and through the tumult of the battle and siege, they heard that tender heart beating true to their afflictions and somehow they were happy. The “whys” still remained hidden in the spiritual realm, but the song of praise and adoration rose in the dark night and the heart of God was deeply moved.
God forced Satan to listen every day to the groans of the Christians that contained no venom against Himself and His almighty. “Be still” became even more emphatic. He rebuked Satan sharply and he felt the terrible pressure of the worship, love, and trust of the saints for their heavenly Father, that he knew would one day crush him forever and totally silence his lying accusations.
Then one day God fulfilled His promise and the suffering saints were called away from earth with its sin and sorrow. Their dead ones were raised, their sick were healed, broken hearts were mended, and God tenderly wiped the tears from their eyes and drew them forever to His breast.
And to their amazement and delight, the heartbeat they heard was exactly the same as the one they had listened to on earth, and they knew that He was not a stranger, but their own God and Father. Their questions were answered and their fears were stilled; their hearts were satisfied, and the adversary was silenced; and they loved God exceedingly and served Him forever.