Waiting isn’t usually our favorite activity. James uses the word “patience” four times in four verses. Remember that this was the first generation of Christians. When Jesus ascended to heaven, some surely expected Him to return in a week or a month. When the delay stretched on for years, some were losing hope—especially when life was getting more difficult for Christ-followers. But these believers weren’t just waiting; they were suffering.
The Bible is full of encouragement for those who suffer, whether that suffering comes in the form of persecution or from some other force. We can even bring suffering upon ourselves. But Scripture keeps reminding us that God still cares, that He has not abandoned us, that He sits with us in our suffering, and that we will come out of this stronger than before.
James provides two examples. First, the “prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” Jeremiah is the best example of a prophet who suffered for speaking the truth. The second example is Job.
When people are discussing suffering, Job is the go-to Bible book. Why God allowed all of Job’s suffering can be an unending debate. But James doesn’t get into the why. He wants us to see Job and other prophets as examples of those who have been blessed as the end result of suffering.
James doesn’t get into the unfairness of suffering. He acknowledges that it’s going to happen and says, “Here’s what we can do with the suffering.” As you grapple with your or another’s suffering, remember these truths from James: