Weekly Devotional | "Patience In Suffering"
This devotional is based on C.J. Mahaney's sermon, Patience In Suffering, given on July 24th, 2016.
Day 1: Patience looks to a certain and glorious future (verse 7)
- “James’ doctrine of the Christian life is a doctrine of process or growth, and patience is its central requirement.” Alec Motyer
- “Patience has a specific object, patience has a specific hope: the coming of the Lord. Contemplating a glorious future creates patience for present suffering.” C.J. Mahaney
- “The farmer who prepares a field, sows seed, and then waits for a crop is a very natural illustration of patience. He can do little to effect the outcome but must wait and pray for the right rain at the right time. In Palestine, the farmer was particularly dependent on the rain that came in late autumn and early spring.” Doug Moo
Questions and Reflections:
- How does James’ exhortation to have patience (5:7) compare to his very first exhortation in 1:2?
- In the midst of trials, why would James encourage the original readers to focus on cultivating patience and love for one another rather than seeking immediate deliverance?
- Read Revelation 21:3-5. Take some time to meditate upon the beautiful end Jesus has eternally secured for us! Ask God to make your heart more sensitive to these strengthening truths, so that you may take greater comfort in them during times of trial.
Day 2: Patience requires an established heart (verses 8-9)
- “It is one thing to wait for the Lord’s coming; it is another to wait well.” D.A. Carson
- “Patience is the fruit and effect of a heart that is established and strengthened by contemplating the fast approaching return of the Lord. This is where you go when you lack patience for a trial. This is the doctrine, this is the hope that establishes and strengthens with patience in the midst of suffering. This is the work one does as one waits for his return.” C.J. Mahaney
- “When our hope isn’t established and fixed on the Lord himself and the certainty of his return, then we are vulnerable to placing our hope in others. And when we do, disappointment is inevitable and grumbling is soon to follow. Grumbling about others is evidence of misplaced hope. When we grumble it reveals that we are expecting and demanding from others what only God can provide.” C.J. Mahaney
Questions and Reflections:
- How can the fights described in James 4:1-2 be explained by James’ exhortation to patience in 5:7-9?
- How familiar are you with the promised return of Jesus? How could regular meditation upon the certainty and glory of the Lord’s return make a discernible difference in your daily life?
- Reflect on your past trails. What misplaced hopes have they revealed? What hopes does Jesus offer instead?
- Consider Jesus as the supreme example of patience and steadfastness in Hebrews 12:1-2. Ask God to help you to regularly practice fixing your attention upon the fast approach, unstoppable hope of glory set before us.
Day 3: Learning from patient saints (verses 10-11)
- "'To be blessed’ is not, of course, the same as being happy: ‘happiness’ normally suggests a subjective, emotional reaction; ‘blessing’ is the objective, unalterable approval and reward of God.” Doug Moo
- “Usually the first casualty of a trial is a biblical prospective of the trial. James reminds us of the biblical perspective so that we might be patient until the coming of the Lord.” C.J. Mahaney
- “Men often fail to understand the true character of God as he permits them to endure oppression and injustice. James gently reminds his readers that, if they will also remain loyal to God amid their trials, they also will come to the personal realization of the kindly nature of God.” Edmund Hiebert
Questions and Reflections:
- How familiar are you with the suffering and patience of the prophets in the Bible? If you were to pick one prophet to read about over the next month, which do you think you would most profit from?
- We often fail to grasp the real worth of a trial while we are in the midst of it. Only after the storm has passed do we realize how kind God was in leading us through it. What are some examples of this in your past? How can you use what God taught you in order to steadfastly endure future trials?
- In the midst of trials, it is very difficult to steadfastly believe God blesses you. Therefore, pray through James 5:10-11 and ask God to strengthen your faith with the examples of countless saints who endured faithfully by focusing on Jesus’ return. Ask God to give you an appetite for reading about the lives of these saints, especially the prophets in the Old Testament.
Group Discussion Questions:
C.J. stated, “Usually the first casualty of a trial is a biblical perspective of the trial.” Can you share an example of how this has happened to you in the past? How did that perspective change in the midst of your suffering or after the trial had passed?
It is essential to understand that patience requires an established heart. We can do this by reminding ourselves of the Lord’s return. Ask for different community group members to read the following passages:
- Hebrews 9:28
- 2 Peter 3:10
- Matthew 24:44
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
- John 14:3
- Acts 1:10-11
These are just a taste of many other passages that speak to Jesus’ return. What specific encouragement do you take from these passages to strengthen your patience? Ask the group to memorize one of these passages in an effort to establish their heart before trials besiege them.
Towards the end of his message, C.J. encouraged us to look to the prophets of the Old Testament as wonderful examples of suffering with steadfastness. Which prophet are you drawn to read about? Despite the little (or much) you know about that prophet, what about them resonates with you?