Summary: We want two things when we suffer; for the suffering to stop, and for it to stop now. But the Bible has a different perspective
Passage: James 5:7-12
Intro: 1. the typical and understandable response to suffering is to end it.
Il) see suffering, we want to alleviate it, rescue the cat in the tree, the puppies stuck in the drainpipe, the horse that has fallen through the ice.
` 2. James in this passage is not talking about the suffering of others
-we are right to try and end it
3. but right on the heels of his diatribe against the unrighteous rich, he instructs those who suffer under their boot.
4. he gives us three examples, and in each, a different kid of suffering.
5. but as we’ll see, the believes response to each kind of suffering is the same.
6. interesting that this is the second time James has dealt with this issue, the first in chapter 1
7. when we suffer, we want one thing: for the suffering to be over! And we will do just about anything to accomplish that!
8. James commands a very different approach.
9. he deals with three kinds of suffering, but the commanded Christian response is the same for all three.
I. Suffering Without Visible End
1. every election season, the candidates tell us that they are going to change things.
2. make things better, more equitable, make the rich share with the poor without losing the vote of either one.
3. James told in earlier in this chapter that the rich oppress the poor.
4. and in the nearly 2000 years that have elapsed since it was written, no change.
5. in a fallen world, that’s the way it is
6. not just economic, but in all phases of life, there the haves and the have nots.
Il) watching some bowl games, amazed at the athletic ability on display. Speed, power, catching ability!
7. and often, the most gifted are wicked people!
8. James response? Be patient.
9. powerful word used, one of the fruit of the Spirit.
10. “the attitude which can endure delay and bear suffering and never give in…”
11. give in to what? Wrath, revenge, a complaining spirit, self-pity, envy.
12. how do we remain patient in the face of such injustice that goes on and on with no end in sight?
13. example of the farmer, who puts his entire life into the ground and waits.
14. and while he waits, all kinds of things can and cannot happen.
Il) drought, insects, abundant weeds, too much rain. Many of these things he has no control over.
15. suffering without end is suffering we can’t control.
16. we try desperately to gain control, and that is where sin comes in. v9
Il) can’t control circumstances, often try to control others. Sometimes by lying. V12
17. James commands us to be patient and stand firm (in faith) We are waiting for God to set things right.
18. not easy for us to do. Here’s an example.
19. God’s response to them? Wait.
20. God is doing something great, and great things take time.
PP Sistine Chapel ceiling took four years of incredible toil.
II. Suffering for Doing Right
1. God calls us to do right, speak His truth.
2. we’d like to think that would guarantee us to live in a state of blessedness.
3. blessedness for us = no suffering.
4. lets look at the pages of Scripture.
5. Noah knew the scorn and rejection of his neighbors during the years he built the ark.
6. Joseph was sold as a slave by his ` brothers for sharing a dream God gave him.
7. David was chased all over Israel by a mad Saul.
8. Daniel was thrown into the lions den for praying.
9. Jeremiah was beaten, imprisoned, thrown into a cistern for speaking God’s truth.
10. the response of these prophets? They persevered. V11
11. in order to successfully suffer for doing what God has called us to, we have to accept that part of our call.
12. no greater passage about this than 1 Peter 2:21
PP 1 Peter 2:21
13. he waits for God’s intervention, for God’s final assessment.
PP 1 Peter 2:23
14. if we do what is right, we may well be mistreated for it. Millions of martyrs have been killed for nothing more than doing what is right.
15. this is to be expected. It is normal
PP John 16:33
III. Suffering Without an Identifiable Cause.
1. when we suffer, we love to ask the “Why” question.
2. we live by the fairness doctrine, and so when we suffer, we want to know what we did that caused it.
Il) or in our day of irresponsibility, we want to know what someone else did to cause it.
3. but we love cause and effect! That is how our world is structured.