If I’m really honest with you, I don’t get excited to read about patience in suffering. Feel me? Starting our family at the age of 16 definitely paved the way for some hardships. And in hindsight I can say I’m grateful for all of the lessons that God taught us during those struggles. But in the middle of the suffering or knowing that there will be future sufferings, we kind of wall off any advice on patience, right? Anxiety creeps up in expectation of future hardships. We’re so focused on the situation when we’re in the middle of a struggle. We’re just trying to keep our head above water rather than focusing on waiting it out. We want a solution! Nobody is grateful for suffering in the middle of the pain.
But here James is, writing about being patient in the middle of sufferings. Have you ever tried to start a new project or learn something new and had to work through all the trials and frustrations? The early church definitely had many struggles, frustrations, and issues they were trying to work through and figure out.
Christ was tortured and murdered not too long before the book of James. The first generation of Jews that accepted Christ as the Messiah were now trying to figure out how to live as followers. Not only that, but they were trying to live for something that they truly believed in with changed hearts in a world that did not understand. Scattered among the Gentiles, these new believers often struggled with persecution.
I’ve been working my way through James little by little. I’d love for you to go through the entire series and let me know what stands out the most to you! The links are down at the bottom. So now let’s wrap up James 5!
Patience in Suffering
7Be 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. 8You also, be patient. Establish your heart for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10As an example of suffering and patience; brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Behold, we consider those blessed who remain 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. 12But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
Check out my post on studying the Bible on your own for what colors mean what and where I get that info. Verses can almost always fit into more than one category so if you start highlighting according to the Good Morning Girls categories know that your highlights don’t have to be identical to mine.
- Verse 7= instruction; God; teaching
- Verse 8= instruction; love; God
- Verse 9= instruction; sin; God
- Verse 10= people (prophets)
- Verse 11= blessings
- Verse 12= instruction; sin
I think it’s hard for us to think about the Lord’s return. At the time of this writing, it’s suspected to only have been about 20 years or so since Christ promised he’d return one day. The believers were anxiously waiting. We’ve had just a little longer. I think the added years have desensitized us a bit.
So how do we establish our hearts for the coming of the Lord like James instructs in verse 8? We back up to verse 7 and use his example of the farmer. That might be easier for Texans like me. But a farmer works year round on his fields, plowing, and weeding, sowing and feeding, watching the weather, and nurturing the soil. All of that hard work eventually gets rewarded with crop. Our hard work on this earth will eventually be rewarded when we stand before the King and account for our lives. This is how we establish our hearts and be patient during the wait. We look forward to the rewards of our labor. The King will come.
Verse 8 is followed by instruction in verse 9 to quit grumbling. What do people usually when things go wrong? We look to place blame and gripe about who is responsible for what happened! I love that James reminds us that the Judge is standing in the doorway.
I can’t help but picture this four year-old kid in his room fiddling with something he knows he’s not supposed to have or be doing, only to turn around and be startled by his mother standing there with her hip leaning on the door frame and her arms crossed.
Power of Prayer
13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him,anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick,and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
- Verse 13= teaching/instruction
- Verse 14= instruction; prayer; God
- Verse 15= prayer; God
- Verse 16= repentance; prayer; instruction/teaching; prayer
- Verse 17= people/history
- Verse 18= people/history
I use the ESV Bible now but I started with the NLT. I really like the New Living translation for this section. Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Happy? Sing praises. Then in verse 16 the NLT says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Except we’re all sinners, right? How do we qualify as a righteous person? What does it mean to be a righteous person? We all want our prayers to have great power, right?
Righteous simply means “in the right”. God is always righteous. We are named righteous by God through His son’s sacrifice on the cross and through the power of His gift of the Holy Spirit within us. Yes we’re all sinners. Be a repentant sinner. You won’t be perfect but try to follow God’s will for your life.
On the contrary, self-righteousness is thinking yourself righteous all on your own. You’re basically just full of yourself. God does not honor self-righteous prayers. He wants credit given to where credit is due – to Him!
My study bible notes tell me that the Christian’s most powerful resource is communion with God through prayer. What a gift! Long gone are the days where the priest went into the most holy place wearing a rope around his ankle just in case he died and they had to pull him out. We can go directly to our Creator. Christ has bridged the gap.
A Sinner Returned
5:19 & 20
19My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
- Verse 19= teaching
- Verse 20= teaching
What does that mean? I think it means do not give up on someone who has gone cray cray. You know what I mean and somebody’s name or face probably just popped into your head. Don’t give up hope for them. This means be willing to give tough love, brave enough to hold them accountable, and speak truth in love. Is that hard? Well yeah! Remarkably hard. It can be quite unpleasant! Though unpleasant, keep in mind you could be saving a soul from hell. That makes it worth it! Never lose hope for the wanderer on your heart. Let’s draw people to Christ through love for God and each other. 🙂
Suffering hardships is a part of living in this broken world. But all is not lost! Our God loves us. God’s love will give us comfort and hope when struggling with trials and hard seasons of life. I want to encourage you today, especially if you are in the middle of the suffering right now. Run to Him, pour out your heart in prayer, and know that the God of heaven and earth hears you, loves you, and has a plan for you. If you’re hurting so bad you don’t even know what words to utter, just listen to these three songs. Much love friend!
Ghost Ship – Where Were You?
Inspired by Job’s conversation with God during his suffering.
Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water
Inspired by her own struggle with Lyme disease
Tenth Avenue North – Worn
Inspired by struggles in friendship and family. Kind of a corny vid, but this is the one I sing to God when I’m, well, worn out.
Hillsong United – Even When It Hurts
Inspired by the honesty in Psalms when lamenting to God
- David’s Psalm 5 – Lead Me in Your Righteousness
- James 4; A Warning Against Worldliness & Boasting from the brother of Jesus. A Lesson in Examining Your Heart.
- A Quick Bible Study Through James 2; Teaching About Favoritism & An Active Faith
- James 5; A Warning to the Rich and Questions to Ask Yourself
- Deuteronomy 30 – Part 2, Choose Life or Death