People who reference the patience of Job have clearly never read the book. Job is a man and, in being such, he only has so much patience. The book of Job is also quite a comfort for someone afflicted with just about anything, because Job was afflicted with just about everything. Let’s hear a little from our friend, Job, and then we’ll get to James.
“Why did I not die at birth,
come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
I would have slept; then I would have been at rest…
“Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.
2 He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not.
3 And do you open your eyes on such a one
and bring me into judgment with you?
“Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!
4 I would lay my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
This is me, slightly taking Job out of context and that’s not fair. Job vacillates back and forth, just like we do, between frustration and anger, understanding, angst, hope, asking questions, and jumping in with an answer too quickly. He’s a man, not a martyr. He’s a child of God, imperfect, but redeemed.
He’s not in the Bible because he was patient. He’s in the Bible because he was steadfast.
There’s a difference.
Let’s look at where James and Job meet in James 5:8-11. The first part of this passage overlaps where we left off in yesterday’s lesson.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.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.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.
The Bible never said that Job wasn’t angry, didn’t have to confront ugly emotions, nor does it say he gave great answers for himself or his friends. He simply gave God an open place to work, and that’s what we can do as well.
“You have heard of the steadfastness of Job…”
We live an imperfect life with lots of bitter and lots of sweet. Steadfastness is holding fast, clinging to our Faithful Father through both. Job’s story gives us insight about how to cling when life is hard, as well as when it’s wonderful. Look up the following passages from Job and find what gifts God gives us to remain steadfast, even when we aren’t patient.
The Lord remains steadfast.
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
12 You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
13 Yet these things you hid in your heart;
I know that this was your purpose.
We read the Steadfast Word.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
13 But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
We fix our eyes on Eternity, which is real and steadfast.
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
We are given the steadfast Holy Spirit.
“As God lives, who has taken away my right,
and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
3 as long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit.
Like Job, I say and will probably continue to say ridiculous things in my days, particularly on the hard ones, the bitter ones, and the sad ones, but the Holy Spirit gives me breath and life. God’s Word keeps me grounded, and His Son keeps me fixed on all those blessed tomorrows of Eternity with Him, rather than the struggle of a moment.
James turns our eyes to our Savior. Read James 5:11 one more time.
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.
Job is mentioned once, but James draws our attention to the Lord by repeating His name twice.
The Lord has a purpose.
The Lord is compassionate.
The Lord is merciful.
Many, like Job, have gone before us that have been steadfast because the Lord is steadfast. Who in your life has lived with eternity steadfast on their heart and mind?
Today, consider them, consider Job, consider the prophets, and consider the Lord. In the bitter and in the sweet, our beautiful Savior is always there.