"Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 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." James 5:10-11
Dustin Johnson is a young golfer who has risen to fame on the PGA Tour this year because he had a chance to win the last two major championships in 2010.
In June he had the lead heading into the final round of the US Open at Pebble Beach and then shot a terrible round in the 80's to finish well out of the lead. That's rather embarrassing for a pro.
Last Sunday, Johnson was on the 72nd and final hole of the PGA Championship and just had to make par to win the tournament. But he accidently broke a rule and was charged a two-stroke penalty that cost him another chance to win.
That has to be tough to take. But when he was interviewed Monday after returning to his home in Myrtle Beach he replied, "It's over! I've put it out of my mind!"
He has decided not to look back.
Usually, it is good to put the past behind us. But in regard to our Scripture today, there are times when it is good to look back - way back.
One of the things suffering does is to compress time. When you are under stress and in pain each moment seems like an hour. Mired in such misery causes you to think you may never find relief. It can bring you to despair and can also cause you to have regrets over actions or decisions you made.
Such morbid self-analysis only adds to the pain.
So, what does James say about this? That brings us to his third piece of advice in this Scripture, Look Back And Be Challenged.
In other words, James tells us, "If you are going to look back - look WAY back!" When you are suffering look back to the prophets and the saints and the Savior Himself to learn how they handled suffering.
What can that do for you?
Look At Their Example - "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”
Somewhere along the way we Christians arrived at the impression that suffering because of our faith is an unusual occurance. Nothing could be further from the truth. You would be hard pressed to find Fathers of the Faith who did not suffer.
When you choose to live godly in an ungodly world, what makes you think you won't run into some opposition?
Since you will suffer as they suffered why not learn how they handled it?
Look At Their Excellence – “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”
Few people have suffered more severely than Job. And none have handled it better. He displayed excellence in his attitudes, his actions and his words. Not once did he accuse God or impugn God or even complain against God. How good is that!? He proclaimed humbly and sincerely, "Though He slay me yet will I serve Him!" Excellent!
Look At Their Experience – “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy”
How does one come to know the compassion and mercy of God? By needing it! By finding Him faithful and able when you need Him! When you need His strength - you'll find it. When you need His comfort - you'll have it. When you need His courage - you'll have it.
Faith begins from hearing about God. Faith grows by accepting Him and coming to know Him. But faith is established by experiencing Him in all His glory, and power, and love. The only thing better than a powerful and perfect God is a PERSONAL God!
Are you suffering? If not, you will be at some time. When you face that time, look up and be courageous, look in and become clean and look back and be challenged!