How would you respond if a friend told you to “be patient” in the midst of a very trying situation?
That was the message that James sent to some Christians who were being mistreated by the rich (James 5:7-11). The rich were oppressing them. Wages were being withheld, and the text indicates that some were being oppressed to the point of death. Wealth and power are to be used to help others to the glory of God not for evil purposes as these rich men were doing.
By inspiration James writes “be patient” – to endure the trials without grumbling and without comparing their circumstances to those around them, especially their oppressors who seemed to be getting away with their wicked deeds.
To be patient? Are you kidding? Wages are being withheld. There are bills to be paid, and groceries to be bought.
However, James doesn’t just exhort them to be patient or long suffering under their trials. He puts the exhortation in its proper context – be patient until the coming of the LORD; His coming is near. Everything finds its proper context in the LORD. The LORD will take care of the wicked when He comes. The LORD will put everything right at His coming. We do not know when the LORD is coming. His coming is near because it could be any time. It could be today or tomorrow or even in the next moment. We eagerly wait for His coming.
Remember Job whose faith remained strong in His God even during severe trials. Satan had thought Job only served God for the blessings. How wrong he was!
Trials test our faithfulness to God. Are we seeking God or do we seek His gifts only? Yes, God rewards us. God Himself is our great reward. Job sought God. His faith in God was not destroyed when the blessings were taken away.
When Job’s friends came to visit him, they did not even recognize him. How much his appearance must have changed! The boils tormented his flesh and the sorrows marred his countenance! What misery they must have read in every line of his face – what depth of anguish and sorrow must have filled his eyes. They sat in silence for a whole week in the face of such pain and grief.
Job’s trials came to an end, and the LORD blessed him for his endurance. We read,
“So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning...” (Job 42:2)
Job’s life teaches us that in the end all will be made well. God rewards endurance. It may not come in this life. But the reward will come. The curse will be fully removed with Christ’s coming. The latter end will be more glorious! We will gaze upon the King who died for us. All heartaches, all sorrows, and all cares will flee.
Problems come to all people. But Christ gives new purpose to our suffering. He is glorified through us when we endure trials with patience, looking to Him for the strength we need.
When trials come, there will be days we can smile through the pain, and days we are barely hanging on. That is okay. Hang on. Hang on to the One who knows what it means to endure great trials. Christ will never forsake you. In those moments when life pulls you down, look up to Him and look to Tomorrow. Tomorrow is coming – a tomorrow when all is made right.
There is not one sorrow, not one heartache, not one trial that we endure that the LORD doesn’t stand with us and for us. Not one. Burdens are not to be lightly brushed away as if they are nothing. We hurt. We cry out to God. But these trials become light when we use them to His glory and compare them to the eternal weight of glory in Christ that awaits us. The reward far, far, far outweighs the trials we are called to endure (2 Cor. 4:17-18). We must keep Christ before our eyes, and know that all trials here are brief and light compared to eternity with Him.
Whatever the trial, look up. Be patient. Who me? Yes, me! Why? That He may be glorified through my life. Remember – The LORD is coming! All will be made right in the end which is truly The Beginning. I will be with God forever.
Northside church of Christ