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The Power to See it Through – James 5 Part 1

by Robin Gough

I’m not a runner.

     No matter how many times I’ve tried to do it, running just isn’t my thing. I mean, sure, in case of a fire or a bee swarm, I’ll run but not for fun. So, when I interact with those who love to run marathons, I don’t quite relate.  How much fun is it to run for 13.1 miles, have your body scream at you in pain, run another 13.1 miles – barely, and say, “That was wonderful. Let’s do it again.”

     The letter of James, in the New Testament, is a practical book that reminds us what it looks like to live a life of faith. James is writing to Jewish Christians about how to live out their faith. He wants them to not just be hearers but doers. It was difficult being a Jewish Christian. You were ostracized by the Romans because you were a Jew and you were ostracized by the Jewish community because you were a follower of Jesus. So James is writing to a group of people who were enduring tremendous trials and social conflict.

     While it may seem unusual, I believe that a key verse in the whole letter comes from James chapter 5. “Behold, we consider those blessed who have remained steadfast.” James 5:11

     What’s steadfast?  Your translation may say endured or perseverance. Perseverance is an exhausted mom who never gets a day off but still wakes up early every morning to pray for wisdom and strength.  Perseverance is the out-of-work accountant who maintains his trust in the Lord when there seems to be no job on the horizon.  Perseverance is the patient who was told the cancer is in remission but now learns that it has spread. 

     Life is no sprint.  God’s put us here in a marathon.  It is not just a quick race to the front of the church and saying I give my life to Christ, but from then on it’s one daily step in holiness.

     So how do you hang in there? How do you make it to the finish line?

In order to focus on the finish line then James says you need to…

  1. Be patient.  

     James 5:7-8 reminds us: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

     James talks about how we need to be patient because there are so many things that are out of our control.  He says to learn a lesson from the farmer.  The farmer must go with the flow.  He can’t make it rain; he can’t make the sun shine.

     Patience doesn’t come naturally for us.  I really struggle in this area.  Any moment of downtime and we pull out our phones.  Especially in our area. We have a hard time chillin’.  It seems that we’re always in a hurry.  Max Lucado says, “We’re the only nation on earth with a mountain called “Rushmore,” and we live up to its name.

     Notice what James says.  He gives us a reason to be patient: “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”  In other words, someday the Lord will return.  Someday He will right every wrong.  Any ridicule you’ve endured for His name’s sake will be remembered and rewarded.  Those light and momentary afflictions will have produced character and maturity and joy. 

     Paul, in Romans 8 refers to present sufferings. He says, I consider these present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed.” (8:18)
Lee Strobel illustrates it this way.

     Imagine at the beginning of the year, on January 1st, your day starts out with intense dental pain. You find a dentist that is open and go for an emergency visit. Come to find out, you need a root canal. As you leave the dentist, you back up your car into a telephone pole and when the police arrive, you realize that your insurance card is expired. Afterwards, you drive to work only to find out that you have been fired.  It has been a bad day.

     Then, on January 2nd, you have an uncle, distant, that dies and leaves you 14 billion dollars. You purchase a house next to a famous movie star, invest in a research and development company which ultimately finds a cure for cancer…it’s been a great day.

     At the end of that year, you run into a friend who asks about the first day of the year – remember how bad it was? You don’t remember because the rest of the year was so wonderful. You don’t remember that one bad day.

     That’s how this “present suffering” compares to eternity. It’s like one bad day.

So pray for His return – long for it – because, for the Christian, it will transform everything when the trumpet sounds.  But until then – be patient and be ready. It won’t be long.

 

To be continued. 

 

Robin Gough is the Worship Leader at the Fairfax (VA) Church of Christ– He is from Pine Prairie, LA and grew up in the Lecompte (LA) Church of Christ




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4