17 A Call to be Patient in Suffering and Prudent in Speech

James 5v7-12

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (ESV)

Suffering is a reality in life that no-one can escape. It’s a state in pain, distress or hardship.
In the world people work hard to escape pain and pursue pleasure. Suffering is simply the price that we pay for being alive – it’s inescapable.
“Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth – it purifies the soul.” (Dostoevsky).

Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay or trouble without becoming upset.
It is the companion of wisdom – of all the Christian virtues – and arises from a subdued will.

James tells us that we as believers need to be:

  1. Patient in Suffering
    a) Envision the heavens – until the coming of the Lord, knowing that He is real.
    It is a wonderful mechanism to deal with the darkness and depravity of this world (see 1 Cor. 15:19; Luke 21v36)
    b)  Expect a harvest – we know God has sown certain seeds in our lives – especially the Gospel – and He will bless it with the early and late (spiritual) rains.
    c)  Establish your heart – in such a way that it is unmoved, trusting God’s promises, patiently bearing with those who make life difficult for you.
    d)  Extend your help to others – do not grumble and get upset if you don’t immediately get what you want. Rather speak life and hope, encouraging one another.
    e)  Emulate the heroes of the faith – See Heb. 11v32-39 and Heb. 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  2. Prudent in Speech
    We make oaths because we crave assurances from other people. Life put stumbling blocks in our path – at our feet. If we go around it, we veer of God’s path. We must go through it or over it in the strength of the Lord – that is wisdom.

In the midst of suffering, we must remain patient and prudent in our speech; let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, neither giving false assurances from others, nor seeking it from them.  Just be honest – be real. In this world you will have trouble but be of good heart – He has overcome this world.