Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Previously we discussed the idea of enduring trials and even persecutions at the hands of others patiently as a way to follow the example of our God regarding how He has treated us. James has kindly provided us with more examples of men who endured suffering yet endured it patiently.
Here we see the thought of enduring suffering, or evil, with great patience and long-suffering. This is the same word for patience we have seen over and over, so specifically, it refers to patience with and toward people. So, even more specifically we see a reference here to the Old Testament Prophets in the face of discouragement and even persecution.
Here it might be a good idea to look at just what the prophets were really doing. Sometimes we think they just sat around foretelling the future. While that was a part of the ministries of some of them, it was not the primary thing any of them did. I have heard the ministry of a prophet being sometimes two-fold; foretelling and forth telling. Foretelling, or course, would be the revelations of future events. Forth-telling would be simply the preaching and proclamation of God’s Word. That was, in fact, the primary mission of all of the Old Testament Prophets, much more so than telling of future events.
Take a few months and read through the Major and Minor Prophets. It is easy to discern a pattern of response to their preaching. The pattern was, that in most cases there was no response. Imagine, if one can, preaching for years and years to multitudes with no one listening. That is just what most of the Old Testament Prophets faced.
The other pattern we see is that they never gave up, they never stopped, and notably, they never stopped loving the people they preached to. How were they able to do this? James has told us, and the answer is patience. They were patient in The Lord. They knew who they were working for and who’s message they were spreading. They understood the rewards to come were far greater than the trials here.
So, what is our problem? Time after time we see men enduring great hardship and carrying on. Most were universally ignored, mocked and even threatened with death. None ever accumulated great wealth or riches. Yet they carried on. They were patient in The Lord. So, the question is: What’s our problem?