James 5:7-11 ESV, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 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.”
While I was in high school, I worked at a local grocery store. I will just go ahead and be honest, I loved it. It was an extrovert’s dream! I was able to talk to tons of people, and I can still walk through a store in town and get, “I remember you from Bi-Lo!” One particular day, I remember seeing an older man, easily in his mid-to-late seventies, walking around looking completely lost. Immediately, when I saw this, I hurried down the aisle and asked if I could help. I will never forget the way this man looked at me; he still looked heartbroken. He began to tell me about how his wife had just died the week before and how she had always went grocery shopping. In what seemed to be a mixture of a small laugh and a choke back of tears, he said that he had no idea what he was doing.
Quickly I offered to walk around with him to help he get all he needed, and even more quickly he accepted my help. As we walked around the store, I began asking him about his wife and family. He freely talked like we had known each other for years, and he began to talk about the suffering in death.
Something he said stuck with me all these years after our conversation. He said that the way we get through suffering is knowing that somebody is there and that it will not last forever. He began to talk about the hope in knowing that Christ suffered from the heartbreak of losing someone He loved, and he went on to talk about how he knew that he would see his beloved wife again one day. He found endurance, and patience, in his suffering because he knew it was only for a season and he was not alone.
This is a great picture of the hope we have, as believers, in death, but this also applies to our suffering. Suffering is a sure thing, but we have a great word of encouragement from James. We must be patient in our suffering; it only lasts for a season.
Our suffering has a redemptive purpose.
Our Suffering is Bearing Fruit
What is your favorite part of a sermon? I will tell you quickly that mine is the illustrations. I love a good story that underlines the beauty of the exegetical point. It is the live-body details that grab a listener and refuses to let them go. The illustration drives home the exegetical point. This portion of the sermon is what the listener remembers and applies to that exegetical point.
Therefore, it is easy to see that the illustration makes or breaks a sermon. Well, James gives us a great illustration here in our text. At first, the language sounds a little irrational. How can our suffering bear fruit? However, I think James is making a great point. He is telling us that our patience, our endurance, in suffering is making us better. It is redemptive!
Just as a farmer plants the seed, and then patiently waits, so we are in this life. We patiently endure suffering. However, there is a great reward for the farmers patience, finally, the land bears fruit! Just the same, our patience produces much fruit – redeeming us, making us more like Christ.
It is the same as purifying metal. The metal has to be placed in extreme heat so that it can be molded and made untainted. This process is long and tedious, but the product is beautiful and worthy of admiration! In our suffering, beauty will rise from the ashes that seemingly surround us. God is making us whole and producing stunning fruit in our lives. Then ultimately through it all, we know God more, and in turn, love Him more.
God is compassionate and merciful. He has revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ, who is our Great High Priest. Through our suffering, we are very much like Job. We can say we know the Father increasingly through it all. I love what Job says, “I had heard you of You by the hearing of the ears, but now my eyes see you.” Job is proclaiming his knowledge and love of the Lord grew through all of his suffering, and just so, we can proclaim the same thing.
Hold fast believers, have patience in your suffering, God is producing fruit! All of it has a redemptive purpose.