Scripture: James 5:11, ‘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.’
Observations: James has been talking about how we ought to be patient and stand firm (v7-8), and now he gives us an example from the Old Testament. Firstly, he talks about the prophets in general (v10), but then he talks about Job in particular. James picks out two points from Job’s story. Firstly, Job persevered. Satan caused Job to suffer unimaginably. He lost everything, his children, his wealth, and his health, and yet he did not lose his faith in God’s goodness. Secondly, the Lord blessed Job. The Lord gave him more children, and restored his health and his wealth. James makes two conclusions from Jobs story. Firstly, ‘we consider blessed those who have persevered.’ The greatest mark of faith is faith that stands firm through trials and suffering. The letter to the Hebrews includes a whole chapter about ‘heroes of the faith,’ people who proved their faith, not just by their words, but by perseverance. Secondly, James concludes that ‘the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.’ Of course it may not feel that way in the midst of suffering, but James’ point is that because God is compassionate and merciful, his compassion and mercy will be experienced, of that we can be sure.
Application: Often we wonder if God is compassionate and merciful in the midst of difficulties, but we need to remember two things. Firstly, God is compassionate and merciful. We can look back and see that truth in Jesus’ death on the cross for our forgiveness and redemption. We can also look back on our lives and see evidence of God’s compassion and mercy in our past. And we can pray that God will continue to show his compassion and mercy in our lives. Secondly, God will be compassionate and merciful. We may be going through difficulty, but God will give us the strength to persevere, and he will bless those who remain faithful to him. If you are going through tough times, I encourage you to persevere, because God is compassionate and merciful and he will bless you.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, like so many people in this world I am often consumed by a desire to be happy and comfortable, and when I’m not I begin to doubt Your love. Lord, forgive me for not trusting in Your compassion and mercy that was so dramatically revealed in Jesus’ death on the cross for me. Lord, help me trust that You have my ultimate good in mind. Help me to persevere, that my faith may not waver, but may grow deeper and stronger. May I lean more and more on You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.