Apr 09 8:50 AM

Patient Suffering

Apr 09 8:50 AM
Apr 09 8:50 AM

 

Friday, April 9, 2021

James 5:7-8

 

 

This has been a challenging year for all of us. And life is challenging. One person said, "Life is hard, then you die." Whereas I think that's true, it's incomplete. Life is hard, then you die, but then if you're a Christian life is easy, because we're with God in heaven. But life is hard, no matter how you put it, no matter what your reason is. So as a result, because life is hard, sometimes it gets so hard that we suffer. And we all know that we suffer. You suffer, maybe health things, maybe relational things. Maybe you suffer emotionally, spiritually, relationally, verbally with people coming against you. Whatever it is, we all suffer. We've talked a lot about suffering and about remedies. Today, I just want to give you a one-word reminder. I don't know that it's a remedy in the sense that it will take away your suffering, but it is one of the most powerful words you need to remember when you suffer. And it's this: patience. When you suffer, you need to be patient.

I get that from James 5:7-8. I think James tells us to be patient because when we suffer, naturally speaking, the first thing we want is the suffering to be over. But sometimes God allows us to suffer more. This calls for us to be patient so God can accomplish his work. Look at what James says, "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yeild its valuable crop, and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." Now that's quite interesting. First, he says, Be patient for Lord's coming is near, and then he ends with the same thing. Then, he has kind of an inclusio in the middle of that bracketing idea, which is repeated at the beginning and end. He says this farmer has to wait. You know a farmer can't put a seed in the ground and go, "C'mon seed, let's go! I got till 5pm." You know, it just doesn't work that way. He has to be patient, has to wait for the process, has to wait for the seed. Have you ever seen pictures of a seed in germination? Essentially, the shoot sprouts and the growth spins around, and it shoots up and it gets stronger and stronger. There's a process. There's a season, and God has a season for your suffering. Because God has a season for your sufferings and it's not just haphazard, remember patience.
 
The text also says "Be patient and stand firm." Can you be patient? What's patience? Patience is not doing nothing. That's a myth. Patience is waiting on God. That's an active behavior, not a passive one. Can you be patient? The key to being patient is to remember that the Lord's coming is near. What's he saying? Even if the Lord doesn't come back in our lifetime, and nobody knows when he will, He will come back. If he doesn't come back in our lifetime, we will come to be with him, and it will be all over. At the end of the day, patience will seem like a small cost for the character development that God is using our suffering for. Can you be patient? I hope you'll be patient in your times of suffering, but not by twiddling your thumbs. That's not biblical patience. Biblical patience is waiting on God's timing. Can you do that? If you do, suffering will make more sense, and you'll be able to get through it, even if patience is hard, because it is a virtue.

Let's pray. Father, all of us struggle with suffering. All of us struggle with the pain and anguish that come with it. We don't like it. We fight it, we want out of it, we want it to be over soon. And that's okay. Except, that's part of why you will allow it longer - to build in us a patient perseverance and endurance. Help us to be patient by remembering that your coming is near, and our return to you is near. Help us to remember that is life isn't everything. So, whoever is suffering right now, give them a spirit of patience to wait on you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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