James 5:10-11 KJV
10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
There are so many examples in the bible of people who have persevered through adversity and come out on top. We could spend days going through the whole list. I’m glad James narrows it down to the prophets for his example here. If not, we could look at Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Gideon, – on and on the list goes. The fact is that I cant think of anyone who had clear sailing while serving God. There were intense in the lives of everyone we hold dear to our faith. And everyone of them endured through those trials. In fact, isn’t that what we draw the most strength from?
James says we should look at the prophets first in looking for those who endured. The prophets who told the nation of Israel what God is going to do, an hat they should do in response. I think of Isaiah, who was the most positive of prophets and was given the most vivid prophecies of the coming Messiah. I am sure Isaiah wanted more than anyone to see those prophecies come to pass. I imagine he longed for that day, but he never saw it.
I think of Jeremiah, who over and over again told the nation of Israel that if they did not turn back to God, they would be taken into captivity just like the northern kingdom had already been taken. He was beaten, put in stocks (Jer 20:1-2), had a death sentence pronounced over him (Jer 26:11), and as left for dead in the mud (Jer 38:6). Yet he never stopped giving the words God was giving him. He stuck to the message of doom despite the opposition.
I think of Ezekiel who delivered his message partly in Israels homeland and partly in captivity. He preached a message of doom and judgement for years and saw much of his words come to pass. Once in captivity, he preached a message of op for a future Israel free from captivity. He was told to bake his bread over cow dung for 390 days as he lay on his side to prophecy (Ezek 4:9-15).
I think of Daniel, who was taken into captivity. He decided to not eat the king’s food. His buddies were thrown into the fiery furnace, where they received a great deliverance. He was thrown into the lion’s den, only to be spared by almighty God. He waited for answers from God, yet never turned away.
Shall I continue? The point James is making is that if we are people of God, and He is working in our lives, there will be trials. People will mock us as they did all of those listed above. We can expect all of this and more. If those men who God entrusted with His inspired word were persecuted, why should we think anything different will befall us?
Then he brings Job to our attention. The bible tells us Job was upright in all his ways (Job 1:8) yet God allowed satan to afflict him. His outcome was great but what he went trough would shatter anyone. I often question if I would stay the course if I lost everything, absolutely everything, in the course of a few hours. It is the most tragic story in the bible. But Job remained faithful and was rewarded in the end.
We are to endure with patience. Wait the trials out. Not get anxious over them. Allow God to do what he will, or allow what He will, and we just trust Him. Here are a few scriptures to remember when going through hard time.
Prov 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
1 Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Phil 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Matt 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.