Enduring trust in a God of compassion and mercy

September 28, 2022
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Daily Scripture

James 5:8-11

8 You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. 11 Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

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Reflection Questions

Through centuries of use, James 5:11 in the King James Version of the Bible, published in 1611, left a phrase in the English language that we still use today (“the patience of Job”). In today’s English, there are better translations: “Job is not patient (Job 3; 12:1-3; 16:1-3; 21:4), but he did endure (Job 1:20-22). James challenges his readers to be like Job, to lead lives of endurance when faced with suffering.” *

  • James stated as a fact that “the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” To keep trusting in that when suffering (whether the suffering is created by other people, or by illness or other sources of pain) is one aspect of the life of faith that takes endurance. Have you ever wondered, “If God is really so good, why doesn’t God’s power just fix this situation that is causing me pain?” What (if anything) has helped you build a faith that endures even the hardest times?
  • In the earlier parts of the book of Job, the title character seemed to suggest he could run the world better than God is. Only at the end does that shift—after meeting God Job said, “I have spoken about things I didn’t understand, wonders beyond my comprehension” (Job 42:3). “It’s a matter of humility–one of James’s primary lessons, as we are realizing. Don’t imagine that our timescale corresponds to God’s timescale.” ** When has it been hard for you to humbly trust God’s timing?
Prayer

Lord God, too often I’m like the young Christian who prayed, “God, I need patience—and I need it NOW!” Give me a character that can patiently endure when your eternal timescale is longer than I’d like. Amen.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Patrick J. Hartin, study note on James 5:11 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 460NT.

** Wright, N. T., Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 38). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

GPS Insights

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

“You also must wait patiently.” Wait patiently? That’s a muscle I barely use. In fact, most of the time I forget I even have a “wait patiently” muscle. My “react immediately” muscle, however, is very well developed. It automatically steps in before my brain even engages. In fact, my “react immediately” muscle pretty much rules my life.

Yet, what I know, deep in my bones, is that if I will slow down and pay attention to the unfolding of life, I inevitably see the Life-Giver at work. I get glimpses of grace, possibility, blessing.

In a world that demands instant reactivity, James advises waiting. In a world that grabs for quick fixes, James advises patient endurance. In a world that rewards outrage, James advises “do not judge.”

This following Jesus stuff is not easy. James makes that clear. But it is the Way of Life. I want to walk this path.