Summary: Patience is the key of getting through life.
Patience Is the Key (Part 2) – James 5:10-12
August 26, 2012
Patience is the key of getting through life.
Have you ever hit the rock bottom where you just couldn’t go on any longer, when the worst thing that you could imagine happened and all you wanted to do was give up? I’m going to show a short video clip from the movie “The Patriot”. Mel Gibson, who plays the main character Benjamin Martin has fought against the British during the war of independence. He has fought with all of his strength and ingenuity, inspiring the American troops. But in one battle his son is killed and this video clip shows his reaction. (Show video)
How can we keep going when the world seems to be caving in on us? How do we patiently endure when the suffering we are experiencing is killing us? This passage tells us how. Read passage. Pray.
As we saw a couple of weeks ago this passage talks of patience but falls in two parts. It speaks of two different kinds of patience. The first, which we looked at two weeks ago, talks of the patience that is needed when waiting for something good to come. Specifically this good is the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. In verses 10-12, the theme is patience again, but it is a different kind of patience. It is the patience that is required to endure through pain and suffering. This passage gives us five motivations to patiently endure when we are experience suffering. The first motivation is this: Others have gone before us. Take a look at verse 10 (read verse). The example is the prophets who spoke the name of the Lord. What sort of suffering did the prophets encounter? They experienced suffering through persecution. When they brought the message of God to the people, it was often a message of condemnation and judgement. The people didn’t want to hear it, so they attacked the messenger.
In fact, let’s take a look at some of these prophets and what they went through. The first person with the official title of prophet was Elijah. Remember his story and what he had to go through? His story is found in 1 Kings 17-19 with sporadic mentions of his exploits until 2 Kings 2. When we first meet Elijah he declares that God is going to bring a famine on the land because of the sin of the king, Ahab and the people. Look at 1 Kings 17:1 (read verse). Right after that God sends him to live in a ravine to be kept alive by ravens. God sent him there so the king wouldn’t find him and kill him. After that the brook dries up and he is sent to live with a Gentile woman in a foreign town. When the time comes for Elijah to declare the end of the drought, he has a huge confrontation between himself and prophets of Baal. Fire falls from heaven to eat up Elijah’s sacrifice and the followers of Baal are rounded up and killed. When Jezebel, Ahab’s wife hears of this, she threatens to kill Elijah. In response, Elijah runs into the desert where he is so depressed he wants to die. Look at 1 Kings 19:3-4 (read verses).
Look at another prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. He prophesied during the time when Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians and burned to the ground. During the time when Jerusalem was besieged, Jeremiah told the people that the coming of the Babylonians was God’s punishment of the people of Judah and that if anyone wanted to live they should surrender to the Babylonians. Of course this didn’t go over very well with the officials in Jerusalem, so they imprisoned Jeremiah and tried to kill him. Look at Jer. 18:1-6 (read verses). Could you imagine being in Jeremiah’s situation, being lowered in a black pit to sink and die in the mud? This is Jeremiah’s own words to the opposition he faced in Jer. 20:7-8 (read verses).
And there are other prophets that we really don’t have time to look at. God called the prophets to serve Him and as they served, they all encountered persecution and suffering. It may be a temptation to look at the prophets as extra spiritual people different than us. But look at what James 5:17 says (read verse). The prophets were exactly the same as us. They went through periods of doubt, fear and worry. They experienced pain and loss and suffering. They went through depression and failures. But what set them apart is they kept following the Lord, no matter what the circumstances. Just knowing that others have done it helps me.
I’ve run for a number of years. But I never ever really ran much past 5 km at a time. A couple of years ago I started running with a group in town called the Markham Centaurs. I thought I needed some extra motivation to keep running. But as I talked with some of the people in the running club I was amazed at what the people had accomplished. Just about everyone had run a marathon. Most had run several. There was one elderly couple in their 70’s who must have run over 50 marathons together. I talked with guys who competed in ironman competitions and people who ran ultra marathons. And all of these people were just regular men and women. They had jobs and families. They were just like me. After that I started increasing my running distances. I found that 10 km was a mental barrier for me. After I broke that I found I could run farther and farther. This October I have signed up for the Scotiabank Marathon downtown and I’m in training for it. It’s often when we realize that others have done it before us that we are motivated to do it ourselves.