Be steadfast in your sufferings
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (Jas 5:10-11)
To shore up the idea that we should suffer patiently through the trials that come upon us, James appeals to the “Prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”. He makes a statement that is full of meaning. I think it is the key to the point he is making: “we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.”
Think about the best example of faith that you will. Those who remained steadfast, we consider blessed. Almost all of them did, Solomon perhaps being a notable exception to the rule. Sometimes, we have a tendency to elevate them to much and think their faith was so great, and that they never made a mistake. Yet we forget the sins that some of them committed. Abraham lied, David murdered, Noah got drunk. On the other hand, we sometimes tend to minimize their sufferings: “But my troubles are worse than theirs”, “no one has ever suffered like I have”.
Of course, of all the prophets that he could bring up, he brings up Job. A man who suffered a lot of emmotional and physical pain and yet, he did remain steadfast. It seems that his confidence truly was in the Lord and not his possessions, riches, or family. It may be difficult to understand the full effect of the sufferings of Job but, we can all imagine some aspect of them. The Hebrew writer says that his audience had not yet resisted to the point of death and of course, we could talk about the suffering of Jesus but, don’t get me started.
We need to realize that while we may honor these men for being so steadfast, they had real problems. They may not be like ours but they were real problems. When we say “they weren’t like us” we take away the value of their example. Yet they are a great example to us and for us. (Romans 15:4)
James wants his audience to remember that God is a God of mercy and compassion. While we may (and often do) suffer in this life for the cause of sin or because of others sins (those rich ones who were oppressing them), God is a righteous God who will take everything into account.
Paul’s sentiments however, express very well the attitude that Christians are being asked to adopt:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Rom 8:15-18)
Posted on January 17, 2012, in Christianity, Faith and tagged christianity, commentary on James, faith, Job, post a day 2012, steadfast, steadfastness, suffering. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.