We count those blessed who endured You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.James 5:11(NASB)
The apostle James touches on many issues that affected persecuted Christians in the early Church. Topics in James relate to unity in the Body of Christ as well as faith, wisdom, conflict, justice, and prayer.
But one issue that seems to thread its way throughout his epistle, and which is equally relevant for Christians today, touches on the need for unquestioning, patient-endurance during difficult trials and tribulations - and the glory it gives to God when we endure suffering for His sake.
The apostle used Job as the ultimate example of endurance in the midst of extreme pressure and steadfast patience in times of deep distress. The trials that Job endured are used by the apostle to remind us that the Lord has promised to be with us in every difficulty and danger of life.
He used this story to remind us that God's grace is sufficient for us, no matter what problematic or painful circumstances we may be called upon to face in this life. He used the story of Job to show that the end result of our suffering brings joy to God's servant and honour to the Father.
"You have heard of the endurance of Job," James writes, before reminding us that all things work together for good for those that love God and are fitting into His plan. "You have heard of the patience of Job - and how he persevered under great pressure. And you have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings in his life - that the Lord is full of compassion and is most merciful." Yes, the ultimate result of Jobs suffering was a revelation of God's character.
Satan was permitted by the Lord to deal harshly with God's servant Job, as a test of his faithfulness. Job's servants were slaughtered, his livestock stolen, and his ten children were all killed in a terrible earthquake. His great wealth was utterly destroyed in a moment of time and Job himself was struck down with the most terrible bodily sores, without even knowing why this was happening to him. And yet through it all, Job's faith in God did not fail. And as we are told... at the end of his ordeal, Job was brought by God into a deeper spiritual walk and a more beautiful understanding of God's goodness and grace than ever before - and God was glorified through it.
Job was a godly man who overcame some of the most difficult and traumatic circumstances in life by maintaining His faith in God. And through his suffering, Job's faith was increased, and the Lord used Job to teach the angelic host some important lessons about His holy character and His plans and purposes for the race of man whom He had made in His own image and likeness.
James used the Old Testament story of Job as a picture of the suffering Christian who overcomes in this present age. But he also used the painful experience of His servant to exhibit the never-changing character of our good and gracious God Who is long-suffering and tender-hearted, faithful and of great goodness, Who is brimming with compassion, and Whose mercies are new every morning.
James was trying to explain why Christians should count it great joy when we fall into various trials and tribulations. Not only does the testing of our faith work patience, which is an important attribute in the maturing Christian who is growing in grace and being conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus, but it ALSO brings glory to God and will one day be used to teach the angelic host about the never-changing character of our faithful Lord.
James both started his epistle and ended his text with the same important message, "We count those blessed who endure." Men and women of God who patiently endure the difficulties and hardships of life should consider themselves happy, blessed, and enriched - because through it, they will grow in grace and develop spiritual understanding. If James considered it so necessary to emphasise the godly benefits of suffering for the sake of Christ - perhaps we should take heed.
Although we may have yet to endure some shocking pain and persecution in the future, and although we may never understand the reason for our suffering, we have an assurance that we will be drawn into closer communion with our heavenly Father as we trust in Him and patiently endure. Not only will we receive Christ's sufficient grace to face the future, but we will also enjoy eternal benefits that can only be considered priceless.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many lessons that I can learn from Your Word. Thank You for the example of Job and other men and women of faith who patiently endured in times of deep trouble. May I be one that stands firm in my faith and endures to the end in these evil times for Your praise and glory - for You are a God of compassion and mercy Whose love endures from one generation to another. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.