08 Jul Patience in pain
If you are new to RSI, let me welcome you to Rock Sydney International family. My name is Ellis and I will be co-preaching tonight with my bro Timmy. I am not the Pastor, my husband is not the Pastor either. Our Pastor Yosia is currently away in Indonesia for ministry and hence you will see either Tim, Edrick (my husband) or myself while he is away.
If you are aware, these days Bobba drink has gained back its popularity. Not just in Sydney, but also in Indonesia and everywhere else. I remembered on the Passover weekend, we had dinner after RSI in city area and I really wanted to try 2 things, either the Yomi’s yoghurt drink OR the famous Alley Lujiaoxiang bobba. I was so excited. Since tomorrow was the PB, we could go home abit late and stroll around the city. How often do we go out in city at night, right? Edrick and I felt so young again. When I reached Haymarket, it was a crazy long queue on the both Yomi’s and the Alley. I was sad, and I thought OK, let me just have the copy-cat of yoghurt drink from King Tea. The store was quiet. At least I do not have to wait. I went there only to find out that the yoghurt drinks were sold out! I went home SO SAD.
On the other hand tho, i have a friend in Indo. One day he posted a instastory about a famous bobba tea that was recently opened in Jakarta. I commented on his post and he told me that he was queueing for 2 hours straight in order to get this drink. Even the day before, people were lining up waiting for this store before even it’s open! How crazy. OK, how do we relate to this? Everyone of us must have experienced waiting or delay in life, from little things like buying bobba tea to greater things like having a boyfriend, getting married, having kids or even healing. One thing we have in common though, if things are taking more time than we expect it, we become impatient. If you expect to line up in an hour and suddenly you’re there in 15 mins, that’s awesome! Happy days! But when you expect to get out of line in 15 mins but it actually takes an hour, you need patience! When things are taking longer than expected, we NEED patience.
This week we are continuing the Series of James. James was Jesus’ half brother who wrote this letter for Jewish Christians back then who were persecuted because of their faith. If you remember, even James started his letter with encouragement about trials “Count it all joy, brothers when you meet trials”, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trials”. So James know for sure, oppression and sufferings are not strangers amongst his audience. And not just suffering for short time, but for a prolonged period of time. In our head, we all understand that we need faith to face suffering. But often in our Christians life, when sufferings are taking their time, when we are going thru some sort of delay longer than we expect it, we become tired and exhausted, we loose track, we felt like we were left hanging (no idea when this is going to end), we start to loose hope, we are no longer running strong. Now, James is a practical man. In the verse 7-12, he’ll remind us three important things, which we are going to learn today:
1)Why we need to be patient in our circumstance
2)Why we need to be patient with one another
3) The steadfastness of Job and Tim’s going to close with 1 quick application.
- WHY we need to be patient in our circumstances (v7-8)
7 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. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Every time we see the word ‘Therefore’, we have to go back to the previous statement. Be patient, why? Because from v4 James said, God hears the cry of those being mistreated and oppressed, and God cares about His people!
James is not done yet, He says ‘until the coming of the Lord’. Everybody in the bible looks forward to the ultimate promise of Second Coming of Jesus mentioned over and over again in NT. And the Bible says THAT Day every battle will be won, all wrongs will be made right. James is saying, ‘remember your faith! Your faith is not in your circumstances, Your faith is in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who promised to return for His people. Not only He hears your cry, but He is coming for you. SO be patient in the midst of the pain, because things will change and it will change for those who trust in Him. It is good news for the believers when Jesus returns, because He will make all things right.
James’ illustrating our life using farmers waiting period. Farmers must go through waiting season before the harvest comes. Even though it seems like nothing much is happening from the outside, God is at work preparing the precious fruit and harvest to come forth. Those waiting times are not wasted. Friends, there is no season without fruits in the eyes of Christ, even in your waiting season. No time is wasted in the timing of Christ. Ps Eddie Byun says this, ‘Waiting is not wasting when we are trusting in the Lord. God is at work, in our heart, in our circumstances, in the people that we are praying for and with, God is actively at work.” Most of the times we could not see it while God is at work behind the scene, but Christians, aren’t we called to live by faith not by sight? The bible says that faith is the conviction of the things unseen.
When we see as if nothing is happening, the weaknesses of our hearts are exposed. We start to doubt and question God, we wonder if He is with us, if He is listening to our prayers? if He will be faithful to His promise? James says, establish your heart, he is saying fight the good fight of faith. In those moments, your heart will fail you. Your heart will mislead you. Because the problem is, we are NOT patience. As much as we like to talk about the virtue of patience, we like to hear motivational speech to be patient. We hate it when it is required from us. It does not come natural to us. Easy to say when things are good, but when things are rough for a long time, when you don’t understand why you need to go through this. Our heart will not be patient. Do you know why? First world problem.. the Bible says, we were born in sin. It isn’t like you are born and then you sin afterwards. No, you were born IN sin, that means you are sinful by nature. Sin shrinks our world down to the me me me. It is about me and mine, and I want what i want NOW. Impatience is natural to us.
Romans 1:25, it says because of sin, everyone in this world has preferred creation more than the Creator. We are all guilty. No matter how good or how strong you are as a Christian, we will eventually fail in our own attempts for patience because our eyes and hearts are corrupted. Because of Sin, our hearts and desire are leaning more towards the things we pray for (even good things) – we want them more than we want Jesus Himself. We deserve to be eternally punished for rejecting God. But the good news of the bible says that even though He can, He does not punish us as our sins deserve. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”. He does not give us according to our sins. Instead, He gives His only beloved and precious Son as the to pay for your sins and my sins. God gives us the greatest Hope and greatest Gift that we could ever received – the gift of Jesus. Jesus is the gift of salvation. Salvation is not just about avoiding hell and going into heaven. Jesus is the Gift, He is our salvation. Eddie Byun says this, Jesus is what makes heaven heaven. If there is heaven and Jesus is not there, then that place is no longer heaven. Only in Jesus, we have found perfect forgiveness, He is the source of our peace and joy. He is the source of our righteousness. He is the source of our patience. We can receive Jesus, not because our own doing, not because of anything you do to earn Him, but because of God’s grace alone. That’s the message of the Gospel.
This ‘Establish your heart’ cannot happen unless we embrace Christ as our greatest Treasure in our season of long suffering. Not only that, for those who belongs to Jesus, He promised to us “I AM coming”. John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. The message of the Gospel tells us not only He has saved us, but He will come back for us. He will not leave us as orphans. That’s the promise. Therefore, right now, BE PATIENT.
- WHY we need to be patient against one another (v9-10)
9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
If there is a sin involved in waiting, it is sin of grumbling. I do that a lot, even in small things. It is so easy for us to minimise the sin of grumbling, we see it as little things. But the bible does not consider big sin or small sin. Matt Smethurs says we have never committed a small sin, because we have never offended a small God. It is never a small sin, a sin is a sin, it is an insult to the Almighty, Great, Powerful and Holy God.
Let me give you some daily examples. For some of us, our season of waiting is taking longer than expected, so you switch on your suffering mode. You browse social media, and you found everybody is in new relationship, except me. Everybody is getting married and having a baby, except me. Everybody bought their own house, except me. Grumble. Those who long for marriage, relationship after relationship failed, we grumble. Those who long to have 2 lines when they pee on a stick, month after months, no line, they grumble. Waiting is hard. But, take heart, God is doing much more than just the thing we hope for.
Not just waiting, often when we were mistreated, experienced some kind of injustice by ppl around us.“My boss is so lazy, selfish, he let me do all the work”. When you drive on the road, “Hey, that guy took my lane without giving a hand! They cut my queue!”. We grumble repeatedly everyday!
Paul Tripp says that all of us have never had what’s called neutral grumble in life. Our grumbling is deeply theological. It is rooted in the sinful heart that dissatisfies with the sovereign plan of Almighty God. It is never neutral, because grumbling is a sign of unbelief in the good and sovereign God. When we grumble, we are doubting His character, whether He is Good. And we are questioning His sovereignty, whether He is in control. We think that IF we are in charge, we would do a better job with the situation than God.
We learned a couple of weeks ago about Deuteronomy, where God’s chosen nation, Israel was about to enter the promise Land. Israel were oppressed and God freed them. They went on a long journey, and when they saw they were almost there but the land was filled with giants and enemies. They were scared. When they saw that after all these time, our struggle to come here! Now what!? ‘This promise ain’t happening’. The people of Israel grumbled against God. And God called their grumbling as an act of rebellion against Him.
Church, aren’t we the same? When we see the Promise of God to us does not seem to match our reality now, we grumble. This is serious! It is possible for us to worship God on Sunday evening and still grumble in our heart and mouth before going back home after the service. It is very easy for us to sing Great is Your faithfulness, Lord, make me more like You; and yet couple of hours or days later grumble agaisnt the way God brings that faithfulness into our lives through our circumstances. Grumbling are not issue of the tongue, it is a deep problem of our hearts. We can say it with our mouth, but do we really live as if you believe that whatever God ordained is right, and best and good? James says the judges standing at the door because he wants us to take this seriously. This isn’t just a little sin.
James take an example for the Prophets in the OT. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Prophets are those who speaks on behalf of God. Back then, God communicates to nations through prophets. So they preach things that they may or may not understand. They proclaimed things human eyes couldn’t see. They were mistreated and long-suffered because of their faithfulness. One of the example is Prophet Jeremiah who was called by God to warn Israel about their sins and unfaithfulness in worshipping many other gods. Jeremiah warned Israel repeatedly of God’s coming judgments. He begged for Israel to turn back but he was repeatedly rejected. He was repeatedly persecuted. Finally, his prophecy turned into reality and Israel was destroyed. Once again, Jeremiah was persecuted all through that period. But even so, in the midst of his suffering, Jeremiah did not grumble, he was faithful to declare what is true, justice and righteous. Those prophets in the bible have shown us that many who do goods also suffer, but they put their Hope in God alone.
Now i’m going to hand it over to Tim.
“11 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.
12 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.” – James 5:11-12
Thank you, Ellis.
James calls the people to look at the prophets who have been patient in their suffering. But now, James now continues to provide a prime example of patience through the life of Job. 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.
Wow, those who remained steadfast are considered blessed. Do you notice that it says “blessed” and not happy? To be happy is a state of emotion, whereas to be blessed is to have the approval and reward from being a relationship with God. Please do not get these two mixed up, deep down we are all looking for happiness but what James is describing is something much better than happiness. You won’t find happiness in your suffering, but if you remain steadfast, if you endure your trials, you will be blessed.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12,11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Does that ring a bell? James said to look at the prophets as an example of patience and suffering. James echoes that upside down teaching of the Kingdom of God, that those who suffer should count it as blessings. The funny thing is, we admire and are more willing to call people blessed for persevering in their suffering, even though we have zero interest in suffering ourselves. We naturally try to avoid suffering at all costs, but let me tell you, if you are a believer of Christ, suffering is inevitable. But God can you use that suffering to prepare us a future filled with eternal joy that will bring glory to Him. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12, Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
It is through experiencing pain and sufferings that our character will be shaped. Here, James says look at Job.
Steadfastness of Job
You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. How many of you have read the book of Job?
The book of Job begins with a man who is described to as blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. He was a good person who prospered in every way you can imagine. He had 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 female donkeys and many servants, Job was the greatest man of all the people of the east. He had a beautiful family that consisted of his wife, seven boys and three daughters. Job was blessed.
Now there was a day when God was chilling in the heavenly courts when the angels presented themselves to God along with the Satan the accuser who does not appear to be apart of the company but went along with them. And this is where the conversation occurs that begins the chain of events in the life Job. So the Lord asks Satan, From where have you come? And Satan answers, from going to and from on the earth, and walking up and down on it. Then the Lord said, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless an upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? Clearly, Satan knew who Job was, that he was a great man, and so Satan responded “Does Job fear God for no reason?10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And God allows it. He says okay. Satan believes that the only reason Job fears God is because God has blessed him. Satan asks God, what if I take it away? I bet you Job will curse you. But God says, go for it.
But amazingly, Job did not do what Satan said he would do. The bible says that Job tore his robe and shaved his head and then fell on the ground and worshipped. Job said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job proved that he did not serve God for what God had given him but for who He is. I love what Matt Chandler said about Job worshipping God, he said Job was probably singing Oceans.
So, the scene changes and we return to the heavenly courts, and God points out the integrity of Job but the accuser says, okay it is because he still has his health. If you let me take his health, he will surely curse you to your face. And then God said okay, behold he is in your hand; only spare his life. I love how the accuser is still asking God for permission, and even when God gives permission there are boundaries. This is not a Satan vs God story. This is a Satan is on a leash kind of story and God is and was always in control. Already emotionally suffering from what just happened, Job was struck with sores from head to toe. Job takes a piece of pottery and scrapes himself and his wife says to him “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” Wow thanks babe. Aren’t you a great wife? Job responds, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”[a] In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Even though all these things happened to him, Job still refused to curse God!
If you continue to read the book of Job then you know, much of the book involves the conversations between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. How many of you have once been told to find yourself friends like Job or to be like Job’s friends when one of your friends are suffering or going through pain? I remember when I was in high school I went to a youth group (that was not from this church) and I remember the preacher reading to us Job 2:12-13 and telling us we need to be Job’s friend, when we see someone suffering we need to show sympathy and comfort just as Job’s friend showed to Job. Yes that is so true, but if you read the whole book, you would know that Job’s friends give Job bad advice and in the end the Lord rebukes them! His friends argued that Job was experiencing this great calamity because he was a great sinner. What a bunch of great friends. Job was innocent through it all. And, in all this, Job showed great perseverance.
Why was Job the perfect example of perseverance in suffering? Even though Job did not know the reason why those things happened to him, he remained faithful to God. Even though Job complained and cried out to God, he refused to curse God! This is a great encouragement for us, to know that there will be tears and hurt when we go through suffering. The Lord knows who we are, He created us, He formed our hearts, so He know exactly what we are going through. He sees our heartbreak, he sees the pain when we lose a loved one, when we lose our job, when we feel alone, He sees our suffering. And He is with us all the time, even though we cannot see it in front of our eyes, God is working behind the scenes; He is the one who brings the rain for the farmers. James uses the story of Job as encouragement for the people because they can resonate when they hear stories that are real. The people knew the story of Job and they understood.
I’ll jump to the end of the story in Job 42, after all that has happened, the ending of Job shows the awesomeness of God.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job found humility. Like what Ellis said before, there is meaning in suffering! God is doing something much more than just the thing that we hoped for, it is through the pain and suffering that God uses to transform our hearts. Why?? Because Job knew that God is far greater than he can ever imagine, God is far higher, and wiser than any man on earth. God is sovereign and in control. And Job saw his own finiteness. Job was nothing compared to the God of the universe and this led to his repentance. It transformed Job and led him back to God. My friends, there is purpose behind the suffering. Job never found out the reason why he suffered, but Job remained faithful and kept on trusting God, and in the end, he was transformed, and this is the BLESSING, the blessing of a transformed heart. AMEN! When you know how sinful you are, you know how great God is!
Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
God not only returned wealth and family to Job but he made Job a new person! The Lord is compassionate and merciful. Don’t let the world make you think that God is absent or that he is not there, our God is also a loving father, even though we experience darkness, God will always be good. He is God Emmanuel, He is with us.
Be careful what you say
When you have a transformed heart, then you should live a life that will reflect it.
12 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.”
In the days of James, people were abusing the use of oaths. They were using it to get out of trouble or avoid punishment. Here James tells them no, do not swear by heaven or earth because as true Christian, as believer whose heart is transformed, we should live a life of integrity. There is no need for you to lie or be deceitful! This verse is a calling for us as believers to have integrity, so that you mean what you say and say what you mean, EVEN if you are frustrated, angry, bitter or upset, you should not say things you do not mean. What you say, your speech, should be able to be received in truth because of the character of a person who is transformed, and not because of making an oath.
Trust in God and Worship Him
Our story will not end in suffering but in glory. When Job faced the calamities, he responded by trusting God and fell to worship. You can endure the affliction, knowing that God is doing something, something that we may not see, and during it all, he is transforming your heart. Trust God, treasure Jesus, make him big in your life, Jesus is our only hope! Trust in Jesus because he will never fail you. We may not see what is happening, but remain steadfast, just as Job was steadfast, and you will be blessed. Do you know Jesus? Have you found in a hard and broken world, remarkable peace and rest in Him? He understands and He suffered for your salvation.
We live in an awkward time; theologians call it the already here but not yet time. Jesus has already come but he is yet to return, and in this time, we are called to be patient while waiting for his imminent return. That is the most certain hope we will ever know. Life is hard for most and less hard for others, but we are all called to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Be patient because suffering is not the end of the story! Your pain right now, is not the final chapter. We will end in glory. Every season of suffering will bring us closer to Christ! We may cry out “God it hurts so much! Why have you let this happen? God are you there?” Remember the story of Job, remain steadfast and you will be blessed. Everyone who believes in Christ who suffer now, will end in glory. This affliction is only momentarily!
I don’t know where you are in life, maybe you’re going through a season where everything is great and wonderful. Everything seems to be going well. And that’s awesome, I’m so glad for you, but you need to remember that one day, suffering might hit you out of nowhere and you might not even see it coming, remember this passage from James. Or you’re going through a season of suffering as we speak, I’m glad that we can go through this passage from James together. Do not be discouraged because I believe that coming to church today when maybe you are don’t even feel like it, is only by the grace of God. Consider the example of James, the perseverance of the prophets and the perseverance of Job. Let us endure trials with faith. We know that Jesus is near and He is coming, He will set things right again and He is the judge. Above all, remember that God loves us as a father loves his child, and that He is also sovereign, and you can rest in that! When you know this, then whatever happens in life, whatever trial we need to endure, we can persevere till the end knowing there are blessings with God. My prayer to you is to trust God, even though it hurts.
Romans 8:18 says, 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.