James: Learning How to Suffer
Have you ever taken any type of lessons over your life so far? Maybe some piano lessons? Were you in the middle school band? How about language lessons?
How about “suffering” lessons? It would probably be hard to get a lot of people to sign up for those, yet, learning how to suffer is really important. As we continue our journey through this “era between the gardens,” it’s a sure thing that we’re going to suffer. Are we prepared?
Join Pastor Larry McCall in James 5:7-12. Our focus will be “Learning How to Suffer.”
1. How does Christ’s suffering on the cross inform the way that we face our own suffering?
2. In James’s illustration of a patient farmer, how do you think this summer’s drought has tested local farmers’ patience? What reason might a farmer have to be patient even when circumstances tempt him to stress? What reason does a Christian have to be patient in suffering when his life’s circumstances tempt him to want relief or justice right away?
3. Regarding James’s reference to the prophets, either from Larry’s sermon or from your own knowledge of the Bible, who are some of the prophets of the Old Testament who demonstrated a “steadfastness” in the face of mistreatment and suffering? How did their lives demonstrate trust in God? Can you think of examples of people you have known whose “steadfastness” in suffering has been instructive to you?
4. Regarding James’s reference to Job, James indicates that, at least in the case of Job’s suffering, there was a “purpose of the Lord” behind it. What might be some of the purposes of God in allowing His people to suffer (see Romans 8, James 1, etc.)? How have you seen God’s purposes in your own sufferings?
5. Why should remembering the nearness of Christ’s return guard us against the temptation to “grumble against one another?”
6. Some Christians seem to forget about God’s sovereignty when it comes to the realm of suffering. They attribute suffering to Satan, to fellow humans, to coincidence, to bad luck, etc. etc.—anyone but God….But how ought it affect the way we suffer when we remember that God sovereignly ordains even our worst of sufferings?
Children's Bulletin for August 19
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (ESV)