Submitted by Lynn on Mon, 09/12/2013 – 21:26
Year A (2013-2014)
On a recent trip back to visit a community where we once lived we came across news in its various forms. Some whom we once knew have died, some have married. Some returned to the church and others had left. Children have grown and others have been born.
The most significant news we were seeking was the wellbeing of a group of young people we had been privileged to know, whose lives had been closely affected by the HIV epidemic. We were delighted to find how many of them had flourished; most of them having completed school with acceptable results, some having been employed in an environment where jobs are scarce and others gone on to tertiary education. These stories can cause one to have a thankful heart and make one want to bubble over with testimony.
Yet in a different vein, we found that one young man who is particularly close to our lives had been convicted of murder and is serving sentence in a big prison far away from home. This story is a shock and my natural reaction is that of hurt and perhaps a drawing away, yet God’s Word points me to a different response.
In James 5: 7 – 11 we read; 7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we count as 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.
So often when I have read about patience in the Bible I have been focused on my own needs and things that I wish God would do for me. Clearly this is not the kind of patience that James is talking about here. Here he calls us to be patient towards one another, not grumbling against our brothers and sisters. Not judging others just because they sin differently than we do. If we do that we will not have the strength to persevere.
To stand firm (v8) means that I establish my heart. I recall what it is I believe and hope for; that each of these children will be part of God’s valuable crop. I remember the faith and prayers over these children when they were still young and innocent. I choose to govern my heart in line with what it is I am hoping for and this gives me the strength to persevere. Patience is not how long I wait but how I behave whilst I am waiting (Danny Silk).
Even when those among us go through dark times and they suffer because of their story, we can be like the Lord, full of compassion and mercy. We can be his hands and feet and practically care for those in need – just because that is who He has called me to be.
Isaiah 35: 1 – 10 states;
3Strengthen the hands of those who are weak.
Help those whose knees give way.
4Say to those whose hearts are afraid,
“Be strong. Do not fear.
Your God will come.
He will pay your enemies back.
He will come to save you.”
5Then the eyes of those who are blind will be opened.
The ears of those who can’t hear will be unplugged.
6Those who can’t walk will leap like a deer.
And those who can’t speak will shout with joy.
Water will pour out in dry places.
Streams will flow in the desert.
10 Those the Lord has saved will return to their land.
They will sing as they enter the city of Zion.
Joy that lasts forever will be
like beautiful crowns on their heads.
They will be filled with gladness and joy.
Sorrow and sighing will be gone.
Scripture passages: NIV
Written by Ian and Anita Rushton
Rushton I (Mr)