Patience is a virtue that we expect and appreciate in others, but not one we enjoy aquiring. Patience does not come naturally; it comes with testing and time. In our instantaneous culture, it is a rare jewel. We want results now; we want to start, finish and be done with whatever we are dealing with. Yet, everyone will encounter pain and suffering, and most often there is no quick resolution or solution. We ask some difficult questions: “Why this?” “Why me?” “Why now?” “How could God allow this?” Understanding and accepting God’s sovereignty and that he is with us, is a big step. Then, we must believe that God uses every difficulty for good and he will grow us in and through our trials. If we stay focused on him and persevere, we will be blessed.
Jn 16:33; Js 5:7-12; Job 42:5; 1 Pe 2:19-20
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. (Js 5:11)
James gives us instructions on how to deal with times of suffering and pain. First he instructs us to be patient and wait for the Lord’s coming. James is referring to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the world, but it can also be noted that Jesus is near waiting to help, comfort and strengthen us now in the midst of our situation. We just need to ask and reach out to him. Next James tells us to stand firm. Don’t waiver or freak out. This is the time when we need to lean on our faith and our fellowship in the church with other believers. Next, James says, “Don’t grumble.” That’s rough since we naturally like to complain, at least most of us do. We will be judged by what we say, so think before you speak. James also commands us, “Don’t swear.” Don’t make a bunch of promises that you won’t keep, such as “I’ll never sin again!” or “I will become a missionary in a distant land.” Also, don’t take God’s name in vain or use sacred terms to back up what you are saying. God is the Judge and he is listening. When we invest in patience, it generates blessing. We aren’t guaranteed an easy or trouble-free life, but we can persevere with God by our side. We level up and mature spiritually when we learn the lessons of patience.
What is the greatest pain and suffering you have experienced? How did you get through it? How did God build your character? How has your pain or loss equipped you to serve others? Can you think of someone who endured extreme suffering and is an inspiration to you? How do you share Jesus with someone who is going through a tragedy or loss? How does pain bind us to God and to each other? Is empathy prevalent in your life? Why or why not? What are some ways that you have responded out of empathy for another person?
Talk with someone who has experienced pain or suffering (greater in your estimation that anything you have been through). Ask them how they persevered. Find out how they feel now about what they went through. What did they learn? What did they gain?
Father, forgive my short sightedness. Help me to view the pain and suffering of life in light of eternity. Work in me through all my experiences (good and bad) and help me respond with grace, love and patience. It is only by your strength and power that I can persevere. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.