10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. James 5:10-11
The tribe I come from is universally known for one singular trait: impatience. It is fierce, war-like, and many other things in that direction; but impatience tops the list of its many negative attributes.
In my country, if you tell people that you come from my tribe and you tell them you are saved, they will look at you with a big, silent “Wow!” As far as they know, people from my tribe are un-savable.
My tribesmen do not marry easily from other tribes because they are much feared. When my wife-to-be, who is from a different tribe, announced to her clan that she was engaged to a man from my tribe, you could have heard the “No!” all the way to the North Pole! The news that she was about to be married into my tribe was a disaster that was unparalleled in the history of that clan. They told her, “He will kill you!” That was all they knew about my tribe.
But God intervened and we finally did get married.
But I did not set out to talk about my tribe in this post; I just saw the word “patience” in the scripture above and I immediately thought about my impatient tribesmen. One day, maybe, I will write about the positive aspects of my tribe. You will be surprised to learn what wonderful people they are.
But, let us get to the gist of this post…
I have been saved for many years and, being a slow learner, I am grateful that God has given me those many years to be around. There are many important things that I have come to know very late in my salvation.
One of those things is what we just read in the scripture above, “… the end of the Lord”. You can suffer, and not realize what the end of the Lord is in that suffering.
In my early days in salvation, and even long after, when I was raising my kids and sometimes there was not enough money in the house, I usually suffered panic attacks. I would wake up at night sweating and wondering how I would handle the bag of many crises that seemed a permanent resident in my house.
I never knew that God was teaching me something during those years of lack and hardship. All I knew was that I was suffering. This made me a Christian who was a Christian only by rote, because on the inside I did not believe a word the Bible said about God’s faithfulness.
It took me an awful long time; but one day, not too long ago, I came to understand that in the end God is faithful, just as He says in His Word.
In Hebrews 13:5 God’s Word says: “… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee…”
God does things any way He wants to do them; and I remember the exact day that He sat me down, so to speak, and He spoke to me.
On that day, the Lord showed me how faithful He had been to me throughout all the years that I walked with Him. In the first place, He showed me how He had answered all my prayers. It transpired that I was so blind I had not noticed some of the answers to my prayers. Some answers had not even manifested themselves in the natural, but it was like the Lord gave me faith on that day to believe that He had answered each and every one of my prayers.
Secondly, the Lord showed me how He had literally borne me on eagles’ wings and seen me through situations that I could never have gone through by my own strength. He showed me the many victories that He had miraculously accomplished on my behalf.
Lastly, He showed me a few things – very few, I could count them on my fingers – things that He had blessed me with in the physical, extremely precious things, just the way He blessed Job in the natural. One of those ‘things’ is my wife.
The Lord showed me all this with a deep clarity.
As I watched this “vision” pass before my eyes, I recall feeling extremely foolish when I realized that I had doubted God’s love for me just because I had gone through some suffering! And yet in the end He had proved more faithful than I could ever have dreamt.
The Bible concludes by telling us about “the patience of Job”, and “the end of the Lord”. The two are bound up together.
That speaks of our patience, and the end of the Lord for us. It is like the Bible gives us a guarantee that if we patiently endure affliction, our end will just be like Job’s.
Do you know what God did for Job as a result of Job’s patience? You can read all about it in the Book of Job, chapter 42. Many years ago I read the story of Job, and when my daughter was born I named her Keren, after one of Job’s daughters that he bore after the Lord ended his captivity.
But God’s faithfulness does not necessarily have to manifest itself in the natural like He did with Job; in the Spirit we will always know it is there. Many heroes of faith died without receiving anything in this world.
And, finally, may we come to understand that God allows suffering for our good: to turn us into men and women of patience, much patience.
[Below: The slow learner; but a learner nonetheless]