This lesson is the fourth of five lessons from the letter written by James. Here in this fourth lesson, James shows us that we can endure trials if we put all the right conditions in place. I have listed six. You may be able to find more to add to the list. You're welcome to accept the challenge. However these six will be enough for our present lesson...
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result".
Trials in life build our character, develop our strengths, and teach us to rely upon God. A little baby has to struggle to walk, but once the child has come through that struggle, and has learned to walk, was not the struggle worth it?
James 1:5 "Ask of God and it will be given".
James 5:13 "Is any among you suffering? Let him pray".
James 5:16 "The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much".
James teaches us to go to God in prayer about our troubles. When James says that our prayers "can accomplish much", the question arises is, "How much?" The answer lies in the GENEROUS AND PERFECT nature of God's giving (verses 5 and 17). The answer is, at the very least, EVERYTHING IN ABUNDANCE that we need to help us endure.
James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for once he has passed the test, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him".
James 5:7-8 "Be patient, therefore, brethren, till the coming of the Lord. Behold the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand".
Patience is increased in proportion to the worth of the wait. If you are in a Post Office queue and have to wait five minutes just to buy a 50 cent stamp, you are likely to easily become impatient because your time is being wasted on a trifle.
However, if you are waiting at a bus stop to greet an old friend you haven't seen in years who is coming to be your guest, then even an hour's delay is easy enough to bear. So we keep in mind the crown, and the waiting and the trials seem much more bearable.
James 5:10-11 "As an example of suffering and patience brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold we count them blessed who endured. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful".
James 5:17 "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly".
James might have made chapter 5 like the Hebrew writer made chapter 11, but even then had to leave out numerous true stories of the men and women of faith that can encourage us. We should read these stories and be encouraged by them. Most of us are never required to bear so great a trial as they had to bear. If God stood by them, surely he will also stand by us.
James 1:17 "Every good thing bestowed, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights".
James 4:15 "What you should be saying is, 'If the Lord wills we will live and do this or that'".
Knowing that God is in control of our lives, and that everything turns out just as He wills, we should endure our troubles patiently. We should not worry or become weak.
James 1:6-8 "The one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man and unstable in all his ways".
James 1:6 James sets a standard of "faith without any doubting", and when you think about it, nothing less will do. The firmer our faith in God, the more stable and unmoveable we will be in times of trial. And why shouldn't we have an absolute faith in God, who has shown himself to be true and faithful in all his promises with "no shadow of turning" (James 1:17-18).