Made in His image.

Made in His image.
Photos courtesy Jan Ethridge Photography

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hating Patience and Suffering for Praise

James 5:7-11 says, "Be patient then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers as an example of patience in suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of Lord. As you know we consider 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."

Why do you think we hate patience so much? I don't think it takes us very long to come up with about a million reasons:) It seems everything about our living today is convenience-driven (and I'm not saying that's all bad:) Drive-through meals have been dinner-savers thousands of times for this busy family! I am all about minimizing stress and shortening my to-do list as quickly as possible. And in my real estate life, I can't imagine how much more difficult and time-consuming everything would be without my smartphone!

Pair convenience with our Social Media obsession (I'm right here too btw) and you get a need to have a life just as good as our other 1200 "friends" whose Facebook lives are clearly Martha Stewart-esque and Travel Magazine, red carpet amazing!

As Christ-followers we are called to be patient and wait on the Lord. Particularly in the area of suffering. Patience, like faith, is a muscle that needs extensive strength-training. It would be completely wonderful if the extent of the patience required from us was a few trials of the most minimal level (like 'Ugh, why hasn't that person gotten back in touch with me yet? Don't they know we're on a deadline!), but we all know that this life is filled with steep, up-hill, arduous battles that can sometimes leave us ready to quit, ready to walk away, done.

Kurt A. Richardson (NAC Commentary) writes, "Here is the sobering truth about the nature of trials in the life of righteous persons, that God allows them to be tested in order to prove their some ways, their endurance proves the Lord's boast in them."

Beth Moore goes on to make an excellent (and extremely encouraging) point on this!
         "God permits and sometimes even dictates difficulty for those in whom He boasts so that they will prove what He already knows is true.  He boasts in His faithful followers then lets them prove Him right. Our God is not capable of lying (Num 23:19) when He boasts on you in your endurance, know that it is based on TRUTH!" * ( You are faithfully leaning on Him and He loves you!)

Easier to read than live through though, right?

James mentions Job in the set of verses above, whose story would have been incredibly well-known to all of his Jewish counterparts he was speaking to. If you don't know the story, I really challenge you to read the book of Job, not just to check it off, but to really hone in on the details of his trials. (It has a way of making some of our complaints look like we're crying over broken nails and spilt milk, just sayin).
Before chapter 2 even begins, Job, described as blameless and upright in God's sight, has seen his livestock and cattle stolen (let's liken that to losing your job), his servants slain, his sheep and still more servants set on fire, and ALL of his sons and daughters killed!

In the next test, as he is over come with sores on the soles of his feet and the top of his head, and as his wife is trying to get him to turn against God and curse His name, he says something that so goes against our nature, I had to stop and re-read it to make sure I saw it correctly.

Job's Wife: "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Since nothing but death is left for Job, she is tempting Job to provoke God into administering the final stroke due to all who curse Him.)

But Job says, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?"

And there's where I got caught. We accept the good things from God in stride, but when something difficult (to say the least) comes our way, we are quick to say, "Hold up! There's been a mistake." (Perhaps in our hearts we're saying 'I deserve better'.) How many times, in suffering, have I cried out to God, "No Lord! You have really messed up! This is NOT acceptable!"

 Life is so hard sometimes. Oh so hard sometimes. I know that sometimes no words are the 'right' words and that no amount of screaming will subdue the pain. Patience is the last thing we want to be called to practicing. To borrow from that scene in Forest Gump where he and Jenny are outside her father's abandoned house ......"Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

But we have a hope that anchors our soul.

Isaiah 61:7 says, "Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs!"

In Job 42:12, "The Lord blessed the later part of Job's life more than the first."

God is awesome in the reversals of fate.  While it's hard to be patient and wait, He sees the beginning from the end. He knows how it all turns out. May that be fresh to your ears this time around, if they've grown accustomed to hearing that in the past. He Knows! God gives hope to the broken and is the expert in restoration. Be patient dear, sweet friends, and encourage one another in faith and in prayer.

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I will see Him with my own eyes! How my heart yearns within me!"  Job 19:25-27

Sunday, November 2, 2014