James 5:7-11 (Week 8 – Faith in Action Series)
We all face hardships and difficult situations in life, but James encourages us to endure those times with patience because the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
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Sermon Audio Transcript
You know, a lot of us when we greet people or we pass by someone, we often use the phrase or ask the question, Hey, how you doing? Right? We ask people how it is that they're doing. But let's be honest, most of the time, we don't really mean it. It's just kind of something we say in passing, we're not really looking for someone to tell us how they're doing. We're just kind of expecting a quick, hey, I'm good. How are you? Or Yeah, crazy busy, but I'm good. What about you? And you're just kind of say it and you move on. It's all we're really mostly looking for in those moments. But I have a friend who won't settle for those quick, pat answers. As a matter of fact, he'll just look at you and say, no, no, seriously, how are you doing? How are you doing? Really, is what he's saying. And he'll just sit there sincerely, and wait patiently for you to tell him how you're really doing what's really going on in your life. So may ask you this morning? How are you doing? Really.WhichMonday do we have staff meetings between one and roughly three in the afternoon. And the very first thing that we always do is pray for each other and for you for specific needs that we are aware of that either has been mentioned to someone or someone's called the office to let us know, or many of you who are in Sunday school classes, copy me or one of us on staff in an email when you send out your prayer request. And when we become aware of those things, we spend time as a staff praying for you. And because of that, I know that some of you are going through some really difficult things. As a matter of fact, just recently, we've been praying for some of you who are facing some things like kidney issues, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, back pain, heart problems. And that's just to name a few. Those are just the ones that we're aware of. And that we know about there were always things that are going on, that we don't know about because we haven't been made aware of those things. But let's be honest, we live in a sinful and a broken world. And there are always things that are coming at us in this life, stress, anxiety, depression, other mental health issues, financial difficulties, problems at work decisions that we're faced with, and that we have to make infertility, broken dreams, unexpected destinations in life, where we end up in places we never expected to be relationship struggles, family problems, separations, divorce, wayward children, and on and on and on. I don't know what it is for you this morning. But there's probably something there's always something that life is throwing at us that we're facing, there's hardships, there's difficult things I've had my fair share lately, there are things that have caused some stress and anxiety and for me to doubt and worry, as have taken my eyes off Jesus during those times. But this morning, James is going to speak directly to us about those hardships and those difficulties that we face. And I think as you follow along, you'll be encouraged by the time we make our way all the way through these verses. Look at what James says beginning in chapter five, verse seven, be patient. How's that make you feel as soon as you hear the words, be patient, you're like, Stop telling me to be patient, right? I mean, it's just one of those things, right? Oh, the James uses this word four times and the five verses that we're going to listen to or we're going to look at today. So obviously, it's a huge part of what he's trying to communicate here. The Greek word that James uses here is a compound word in Greek. It's made up of two words, macro, and thermos, macro, meaning long, and through moss is the word that we get our word in English thermometer from it's associated with anger or temper. So when you put these two words together, it means long or slow to anger long or slow to get frustrated. But it's really even more than that. The word that we often use in English for this is long suffering, it means to patiently endure lasting hardships and difficulties to patiently endure hardship and difficulty. So this is what James means when he says right off the bat, be patient endure when you are facing hardships and difficult situations and circumstances in your life, hang in there. Don't give up. Don't give in, be patient and endure through those times. But Jane says that we don't have to do that forever, he puts a timeline on how long we have to be patient and endure. Look at the rest of verse seven, be patient, then brothers and sisters until the Lord's coming. In other words, there will be a day where there won't be any more suffering, when there will be any more pain. And there won't be any more hardships a day is coming when all will be made right and whole. And at that time, we won't have to endure or hang in there, because we'll be in our forever home with God and in his perfect heaven. But until that day comes, James says to hang in there to be patient, to endure the situations and the difficulties and hardships that we face in this lifetime. Now, the really good news about this, though, is that we don't have to do that alone. And we don't have to try to muster up that patience in our lives. We're told in Galatians five, that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. And we know that the moment we put our faith and trust in Jesus for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us unites to our spirit making us a new creation in Christ. And so if Patience is a fruit of the capital S spirit, and we are united to the capital S spirit, then we have the spirits, patients, we have patients in Christ, it's not something we have to create or muster up in our lives. We have it simply in our union with Jesus, our spiritual union with Jesus. Hallelujah. Now, to experience that patients that we have in Christ, we must turn our attention to having the patience that we have in Christ to the heavenly things. We're told over and over again, to fix our eyes on Jesus to focus on Christ. James, just last chapter talked about pointing and having us focus on the wood, the wisdom that is from above, it's all related to fixing our eyes on focusing on those kinds of things. So as we renew our minds to the truth, as we set our minds on who we are in Christ, the patients that we already have in Him, then we begin to experience that patience that we already possess in our lives, as we go through hardships and difficulties and are waiting on the Lord's coming. Right. So James tells us to be patient, he tells us how long we have to be patient for. The next thing he does is he goes on as he gives us a picture of what this patient's looks like. He picks up in verse seven and continues and says see how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains, verse eight you to be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. So James gives us the picture of a farmer and the process that a farmer goes through to yield his crop. Now, all of us know even if we're not farmers that a farmer doesn't just sit there and wait patiently for rain to fall on some plot of land and just wait for crops to be produced on that land. There's work that is done while he's waiting. A farmer is working in the dirt. He's plowing and he's pulling up weeds and he's sowing He's planting that seed he's it's hard work. He's grinding in the dirt day after day as he waits. Now, one has to ask why would a farmer do all of this work when he can't even control the rain? I mean, adds a lot of stuff to go through a lot of really hard work if you don't even know if it's going to rain and be able to produce a crop so why do it in the first place? course the answer is because the farmer has seen it rain before the farmer has seen God open up the skies. and sinned his reign, as James says in the fall and in the spring. And because he has seen the Lord's faithfulness, it leads him to not just sit around and do nothing but to be actively involved in preparing for what he trusts, the Lord is going to do based on what he's seen him do before.He's actively working and expecting him to work in the future, based on what it's seen him do before. What I'm saying is that we too, are to wait patiently, first and foremost, because we've seen the Lord sinned, the rain in our own lives as well. We've seen him move in our own lives and show up and be faithful to us and other difficult times. And other times that we've been facing hardships we've seen him prove his faithfulness to us over and over and over and over again. And of course, we ultimately see him prove that in sending Jesus to the cross, and him enduring that and how he vindicated Jesus and resurrected him from the dead. So I think one of the things that would simply be most beneficial to all of us would be at some point, to maybe just pause and begin to make a list of all the things that God brings to mind that he has been so faithful to us in before. The times that we've seen him show up in the difficult situations and circumstances of life, how he, we've seen him show up, because those are the things that keep us focused on God's faithfulness to us in that moment, as we're going through those things. And also for what's coming in the long run. The image I think, is kind of that of, of a puzzle, right? I had my wife, I'm not a big puzzle guy, I don't know if you're a big puzzle person. But Natalie, my wife is a huge piles of parts. And she could sit there for hours and just take those little individual puzzle pieces and try to match them up and fit them together. And I mean, sometimes it takes forever just to get the border of it. And it just is, you know, there's so many scattered all around. But I mean, every time a little piece gets added to that, eventually you start to see the big picture of what's going on in all those little tiny, bitty pieces, right. And I think life is like a complex puzzle with many pieces, right? Each trial that we face is like a piece of the puzzle representing a challenge or a difficulty. And as we wait patiently, or we patiently endure through those trials, it's like God is fitting those puzzle pieces together, if you will. And over time, we start to see what the bigger picture, the beautiful image that God is forming in our lives through these trials in that reminds us of His faithfulness. It's what allows us, as James said, to stand firm in the trial and the difficult situations because we've seen him be faithful to us and bring us through. And we know that he's up to something in it. And again, we don't just sit there passively waiting for him to get us through it. Just like the farmer, we're actively plowing and loosening up the soil of our own lives, if you will, to receive first of all, what God is doing in our lives in those moments, because again, we know that he's up and working for our good and his glory in those he's painting a bigger picture, like we just said through those things. And so we wait patiently for Him to show us and reveal what those are instead of just trying to get out of them. Right. Of course, James has even talked about this already in the opening chapter of this letter as well. But again, not only are we waiting for him to use the hardships to shape our lives in some way, we're also waiting for the fruit that he is going to produce through us to impact others. We know that God does not stop producing fruit through us even in the difficult times. He doesn't push the pause button and say, Oh, you're going through some real struggles. Now, I'm not up to producing any fruit and doing anything through you to make Kingdom impact. Now, you just need to hang in there and focus on you know, all the things that you're going through and try to get through it. No, no, no. He's using those and working through us and expressing his life through us, even during those times to impact other people around us. And so again, just like the farmer is actively involved while he's patiently waiting on the rains, we II two are actively involved in what God is doing, not just in our lives, but through our lives while we patiently endure the hardships that we face and for him to bring us throughverse nine, James says, don't grumble against one another brothers and sisters, or you, too will be judged. The judge is standing at the door. Now, that seems a little bit random. Right? I mean, where does that come from? Well, I think one of the things that James understands is that if we're in the middle of difficult situations and hardships in our lives, trials, and the stress associated with those, and especially if we're not focused on the Lord and His faithfulness, and goodness, during those times, there is a huge temptation to take what it is that we're feeling and projected onto others, or maybe even blame them for what's going on in our lives. During that time. The word translated grumble, there is still Nazo in the Greek and it means to sigh or to groan, it's the same kind of picture of the Israelites wandering in the desert, and all the groaning and grumbling and complaining that we read about over and over again, in the Old Testament, it means to complain in an intensive and excessive manner. James says, Don't do that. Don't do that don't especially against one another, don't complain or groan about your problems and project what you're feeling on to others. And, and even more, don't blame them for your problems. Of course, we all probably do that way more than we think, right? I mean, if my spouse would just get his or her act together, right, I'd be more happy. he or she's the one that got us into this situation in the first place, right. And we, we cast the blame on them. And we projected off of ourselves in those ways in which we do that in any number of ways, with family members and friends and co workers and people in our church, right, we grumble against one another during hardships and difficulties, instead of waiting patiently on what he's doing to shape us, and to work through us to impact others during those situations. In those times, most of us just want out, I just want to get out of it. Satan convinces us during those times that other people are the problem. They're the reason that we're here, he leads us to grumble which of course is going to allow us or lead us to experience even more problems during those times. And Satan doesn't want you and I to experience the patients that we have in Christ, the peace that we have in him, he wants to rob you of the life that you have in Christ and destroy the relationships that you have with others as well. And so while you're in those hardships and difficulties, he's actively working, to keep you focused not on the patients in life and what it is that Jesus is doing to shape you and His Kingdom work through you in those times, but to steal, kill and destroy, Rob, you have those experiences. So James, so far has said to be patient, He's given us a picture of patients in the farmer. He's warned us against grumbling in the middle of waiting on the Lord, but he's not done. He has the or the last thing that he gives us is examples of those that we can look to who have endured and been patient in suffering and the difficulties and hardships that they have faced as well. Look at verse 10. Bro brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about the Lord is full of compassion, and mercy. James gives two examples here to look at the first of all the Old Testament prophets, and then second of all, job. Now, he doesn't name any specific prophets that he had in mind in the Old Testament. But there are countless examples of course of prophets in the Old Testament who suffered hardship, who patiently endured while waiting on the Lord. Take Jeremiah, for example, in Jeremiah 38, King Zedekiah wrongly imprisoned him, he puts him in a muddy dungeon left him there to die. With Jeremiah voiced no complaint towards God during that time, he didn't voice any complaint to his captors. When Zedekiah summoned him later on, he asked for wisdom and advice on a matter, Jeremiah just spoke up in the name of the Lord and gave Zedekiah wise counsel patiently endured through the hardship and the difficulty keeping us fixed on what God was doing in and through it all. Take exeat Ezekiel As another example, God tells Ezekiel that he will be locked in his house, that he's going to be bound with ropes, he's gonna become unable to speak and have to lie on his side for 390 days, I mean, not exactly a glamorous lifestyle for someone who's being sent to do God's work. But he entered into it anyway, even being told that this was what was coming. And he patiently endured the hardships and the suffering. As he spoke in the name of the Lord and the Lord was up to something in and throw it, he was using the suffering to accomplish something through these Old Testament prophets. And again, the suffering didn't come into their lives, because they were out of God's will. It didn't come into their lives because they were walking in their flesh in those moments, God allowed them to be right where they were, and going through what they were going through, because there was purpose in it. It was a puzzle piece of all the pieces that he was putting together. And as you and I just like, Andrew stood up here and talked about the Bible and the Bible recap. And in the overall story of the Bible, pointing to Jesus, we have the benefit of sitting on the other side of the cross, and Jesus's death, and resurrection. And we can look back on all of those things that have happened in the puzzle pieces that God was working through a zekiel, and Jeremiah and Isaiah and all the above and through all of his people. And all of a sudden, it's put together see, oh, that's what God was, he was painting this beautiful picture that was leading to salvation through Christ, and ultimately, his return, to bring us into glory with him. And so James points us to the examples. He wants us to think about them and how they worked and endured that suffering and how he was up to something in their lives. But the second person that he mentioned, specifically, then is, of course job, as we saw in verse 11. Many of you have read the account of job and are familiar with him. But if you haven't, here's what you need to know. Job were told as an ex was an extremely wealthy man. He was married, he had seven kids. The Bible calls him a very blessed man by the Lord. But in a matter of days, and weeks job loses everything. I mean, he loses all of his wealth, all of his kids die. I mean, it is a horrible thing that happens to him. Can you imagine losing all of your wealth in a matter of days and a few weeks and having all seven of your children die? But Jobe tears his clothes, he gets in sackcloth and ashes. And he says, Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will return. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord Jobe warships in the middle of hardship, suffering and difficulty, he's trusting the Lord even as these things happen. But even though he expressed his trust in the Lord and worshipped and glorified the Lord and for who he is, and what he would do in and through those things, his life doesn't get better. I mean, after this, we're told that from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, that job breaks out in painful boils. And then at some point, his wife even says, job, are you still holding on to your integrity? Just Curse God and die, you fool. How's that for being encouragement? Right? Such an idiot. Just curse him and die, you're a fool.But through it all job perseveres, he endures, he patiently waits on the Lord, and eventually God heals him. He restores him and all that he had, and we see God's compassion and mercy that James alluded to in verse 11. And so James is writing to this group. Have people his brothers and sisters in Christ. He's saying you guys have heard about this, you know about Job's perseverance you know that the Lord brought him through that. And he finally brought him through, you know how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy as you look at the example of job and the Old Testament prophets. So since you know that and you're aware of that in their lives, then you to be patient and endure, wait for the Lord, don't take matters into your own hands, know that he is good, and that he is up to something for your good and his glory, hang in there in the Lord's strength, hang in there in the Lord's power, hang in there. Because the Lord is compassionate and full of mercy. He loves you, and has blessed you in Christ with every spiritual blessing that you could have, and you have a guaranteed inheritance fromhim. The same is true of you and me if we put our faith and trust in Jesus for salvation.So again, I know that some of you are walking through some tough and some difficult situations, you're walking through a separation or a divorce, the loss of a loved one, a wayward child, you're dealing with a lump or a tumor that's been found you're struggling with your finances and don't know how you're gonna make it you're struggling in your job or your career. At this moment. You don't know what God's up to. You're dealing with depression and anxiety or addiction in some way. And of course, it can be so hard to walk through these kinds of situations and hardships in our lives. A lot of times, it can be so tough that maybe you feel like you should just throw in the towel and just say it's not worth it. But listen, it is worth it. Be patient in Christ and endure stand firm, because the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. He is good and he is faithful and his love does endure forever. He's putting together puzzle pieces, and you may not see it at the time, but one day you will he's forming a beautiful story, a beautiful image of your life even through your hardships and difficulties. So trust him and renew your mind to the truth that He is full of compassion that he is full of mercy and that he has a great plan for your life.