Patience in Suffering

Patience in Suffering



Can I share one of my favorite pictures with you?

I’m standing on the temple platform in Jerusalem, looking at the destruction caused by the Roman empire in 70 AD, and the wear and tare from the last nearly 2000 years. On top of the original temple platform, the Muslim’s later came in a built a mosque, and I’m just so saddened and impacted by the damage people and time can have on something that is so important in the history of our faith. Then it occurs to me, this is just like the world we live in- there's destruction, suffering, and brokenness of things that are so precious to God.

 But then I look up, and in the distance I see the Mount of Olives. This mountain is not only where Jesus ascended, scripture tells us this where he will return to this earth to rule, reign, and restore all things.  And what a difference that makes in light of all the brokenness in our current reality.

Against the backdrop of our current circumstances is the sure promise of our victorious and coming King, Jesus Christ. 

 The reason I love this picture so much is because I think it’s a great visual for what James is talking about when he writes, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming” (James 5:7a). Within the context of suffering, the only way we can be patient is when we have the settled assurance that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Judge, and Jesus is coming again in victory. He sees the brokenness in the foreground of our life, the destruction time and other people have caused. But like the prophets and Job, referenced in verses 10 and 11, we can persevere because the Lord is "full of compassion and mercy” (vs. 11). We can be patient because God is faithful to his promises.

Let’s look to one of the prophets as an example:

The prophet Jeremiah was so obedient, so faithful to God. He said what God told him to say, he went where God told him to go, but was still arrested as a traitor by professed believers and thrown into an abandoned well to die, among many other things. Talk about unjust suffering!    

Despite the circumstances and the suffering he endured, he remained faithful. Why? How? The only explanation is he was so convinced God’s promises are true, that God is faithful to his Word, that a future redeemer was coming, that he was a righteous judge with a good plan to prosper his people, and to give them a hope and a future.

Now Job:

I’m not sure who, except for Jesus himself, suffered more than Job.

And while it’s true complained a lot, he never turned his back on God, or as his wife advised, "Curse God and die." He remained steadfast and we see how God blessed him with double of all he lost.

That’s not a guarantee we’ll get a material blessing for our suffering in this life. I’ll be honest, I wish it was, that would be really nice.

But it is an invitation to look to Christ, he is faithful to his Word:

Revelation 22:12 tells us,“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”

Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Judge, Jesus is coming back in victory.

 Patience in suffering is a very powerful witness to that truth.  

Your life backs up your message. When we say God is trustworthy and then we live out that truth... Whoa. What a powerful witness to the promise of Jesus’s victorious return when all things will be made right and new.

Fair warning, just as patience in suffering is a powerful witness for Christ, an impatient Christian is a powerful weapon in Satan’s hand. We run ahead of God and miss out on God’s blessing. We profess that God is good with our mouth but our life demonstrates we don’t actually trust his goodness.

In case we’re tempted to doubt God’s character, which we can so often do when we’re suffering, we can look back again to what James adds to verse 11,  “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

 If you’re going through something difficult today, I hope you find these words encouraging:

“You are not a robot caught in the jaws of fate. You are a beloved child of God, and God has a gracious purpose in all of this suffering , and he will work it out in his way, in his time, for his glory.”

 Let’s ponder these questions together:

  1. How might taking my eyes off of the brokenness in my life and in the world and fixing them on Christ’s victorious return impact how I live my life?
  2. How might it impact those around me?

 We can be certain God’s promises are true. We can be certain of the end time restoration of all things, including God’s people.

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Judge. Jesus is coming again in victory.

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