Sorry for the lateness of this post. This Sunday we’ll be reading James 5:7-12.
Have you ever been going through very difficult circumstances and been really anxious to see those troubles end? It’s not easy to be patient when times are hard, is it? James gives his suffering readers the counsel to be patient…but patient for what? What sort of solution does James anticipate, and how does that square with what we normally want for a solution?
Starting with v9, James offers practical ways in which we need to demonstrate our patience when faced with difficult times. Why do you think he talks about how we treat each other during hard times?
James tries to get us to focus on the significance of suffering by mentioning Job. What lessons do we learn from Job about hard times and what’s really at stake?
This should be an encouraging study – hope to see you on Sunday!
4 thoughts on “Patience in Suffering”
I don’t know anyone who really enjoys the troubles of life. Large or small, we all look forward to “getting past this” and moving on to happier or easier times. James tells us to be patient because a good ending is coming. God is just and we will be rewarded as we stay the course. He talks about farming and seasons and waiting for crops. This is no microwave fix. It is more of a longterm hope that is revealed. Again the focus is changed from this temporary world to more of an eternal viewpoint. I think he mentions our treatment of others during trials for several reasons. It is easy during those times to be jealous of the seemingly easy lives of others or to be short tempered with others because the “pressure is on” , to blame others for our circumstances or even to begrudge others for not helping us during these times. All of these are knee jerk reactions to pain. God is always up to something in our trials. And it is always something good even if we don’t see it at that moment. He allows us to stay there for as long as it takes to work His purposes in our lives, sanding down our rough edges and revealing Himself to us in a way we didn’t know Him before. I think the bottom line is our trust in the goodness of God and His love for each of us personally. James points us to those who have gone before us including Job. Job endured a season of immense pain and suffering. He never cursed God or turned his back on Him. He did however seem to be a bit prideful questioning God’s methods and demanding an answer. God is sovereign. We don’t always get the answers as to why. We must trust His goAs Job humbled himself, God revealed His true nature. He rebuked the friends who assumed Job was “in sin” and being punished by the strong armed heavenly disciplinarian. He clearly does not want us to see Him through those dark glasses. As Job prayed for his friends(not held a grudge, walked away or retaliated) God restored him, revealing Himself as our kind and compassionate King. He is trustworthy and true to His own!!
goodness. (not goAs)!! oops
I feel like in really hard times we want to know why and understand. If we’ve read God’s word we know that all trials are times to learn something and grow in some way. Which leads me personally to ask, ‘what do you want me to learn’? Ya know… he’s never answered me, “Oh hi Kris. I’m so glad you asked. I want you to learn ____________. So I guess now that I’ve told you, your trial is over huh? Ok!”. Knowing he doesn’t work like that doesn’t stop me from hoping that’s how it’ll work though. Instead it seems that asking brings me further into the fire. It hurts and it’s hard, confusing and at the time feels unbearable. There’s always, ALWAYS a moment though that God’s purpose becomes so very clear. It’s at that moment you realize, ‘There is no way I would have learned this if I hadn’t gone through what he just brought me through.’.
When Job went through his trials he cried out to God. He asked why and tried to understand. He wasn’t perfectly stoic. He was heartbroken, devastated, incredibly confused and seeking answers. I can’t tell you how much better it makes me feel knowing that the example everyone points to was an emotional wreck. So, if he wasn’t perfectly stoic and emotionless, running around saying, “Everything is just fine. God is good so life is always sunshine and butterflies.”, then why is he the example that everyone turns to? I feel like Job’s patience was shown by the choices he made. God makes it clear that he has given us free will. He gave us the freedom to choose whether or not we want to trust him and be ‘in it’ with him. At any time Job could have thrown his hands up and said, “Forget it God. You aren’t answering me. I haven’t done anything wrong and you have taken my WHOLE LIFE from me. You’re not worth it so I’m going my own way.” Instead, Job drew on the wisdom that God had blessed him with. He acknowledged that he didn’t know everything and that there must be a purpose. He knew with his whole being that clinging to God was the best and only option if he wanted to make it through with his soul in tact. Job chose to go through each trial clinging to God no matter how much it hurt and cost him rather than saying, ‘forget you’ or making the foolish decision to bargain with God thinking that he had anything of worth to offer God.
It would be so easy for us to lash out at everyone around us when we’re in the fire. It’s a release of tension and a way for us to make others feel as miserable as we do. If we believe that trials are a chance to grow personally, grow closer to God and learn, then wouldn’t that be defeating the purpose? We can’t grow closer to God or grow in faith or learn anything at all if we are laser focused on doing something that is in complete opposition to what God is asking of us. The two are oil and vinegar. If you attack others you are not being patient and choosing to trust God. If you are focused on others around you, you are NOT focusing on God and what he is trying to teach us or grow us in. If you ‘release the tension’ rather than show love you are choosing to take the easy way out and go your own way.
Things have been pretty rough lately and just at that moment where I thought I was done and had NOTHING left to give God turned my eyes to something more that I had. Then… he asked me to give it away. Do you know what that did? Do you know how I felt? Amazingly… it was an incredible release! It brought out more joy. That overflowing joy that he promises. He didn’t bless me with anything more to solve the problems I had and still have, but he changed my focus and put things in crystal clear perspective. The whole world WILL fall away but he will never change or fail us. What did you choose while your world was falling away? Did you choose to hold on to that one thing or choose the unknown that he has waiting for you? I feel like THAT is the true test through these trials. Not whether or not we are emotional or stoic. What way do we CHOOSE to go? Do we choose him or to go our own way? Are we arrogant enough to try and bargain with a God who not only has everything but CREATED everything?
Ok, so the story’s not over. Like Dayle sang, God takes all of that brokenness and emotional turmoil, puts it aside and makes it SO BEAUTIFUL!!!! Exactly what is described at the end of Job. God takes it and makes it into something even more beautiful than it ever could have been before the troubles began.