APP for Suffering James 5:7-12 LMPC

8/28/16 Sermon from LMPC

For a video of this sermon, click here.  

James 5:7-12 “APP: Appearing, Patience, Perseverance” 8/28/16
The word “App” stands for web or mobile “applications.” I with there were an App for how to handle suffering.  I wish there were an App that would remind me that God will come and make things right.  I wish there were an instant app that would give me patience.  I think I would use that one more than I would use a morphine button after an operation.  I wish there were an App that would help me to persevere- so that I would not worry about giving up when I don’t have any more strength or will left.   But today I will preach on the acrostic APP: Appearing, Patience, and Perseverance.  These are things we can do to keep hope and faith in the midst of suffering and hardship.
APPEARING- If we believe God comes to us- we can have hope.  In today’s very secular world, the main point of view is to say we believe in God but not really want God to appear.  If you knew at the end of this day you would meet Jesus, how would it change the way you listened, the way you loved, the way you looked at others.  If you believed that Jesus would intersect your life- not poetically- but really- that He would meet you and ask you why you did what you did today, would it change the way you handled the good and the bad things of life?  Three times in our passage in James it speaks of Jesus’ appearing as an aid to help us in our suffering.  I remember when the doctors 11 years ago the doctors told Kay she would live 3 months- it sure changed the way I acted toward Kay and how she acted toward me.
What James is saying is that suffering and evil will not last forever.  It will come to an end.  James’ main point is we face suffering knowing that Jesus- who faced suffering brutally- will come and put an end to suffering.  It is not just death (rest in peace)- it is hope beyond death.  Death is a meaningless end to suffering.  Eternal life is a redemptive end to suffering.  There will be a day when there will be no more fear, no more tears- not just because they stop- but because “He will wipe every tear from our eyes.”  The love of God goes beyond suffering.
There is a real blessing to believe that Jesus will come back.  The early believers knew this.  It is that evil and all things that go against or ignore God become quickly powerless.  Evil and unfairness do not win. The directions that work are not the ones we write, but the ones that will be evident when the Manufacturer comes on the scene.  Years ago we had some cabinet construction done on the church manse we had in a previous church- but there were problems in how it was done.  The workers tried to cover up the mistakes at first with paint and then with epoxy. Finally the contractor was not claiming responsibility so the cabinet maker came and told us what was wrong- what was right and it was fixed.  When the Maker comes to what He has made- all the things we cover up will be gone.  All the temporary fixes, all the things that we do to cover up the symptoms but do not fix the problem will be gone.  God comes to help and to heal.  So we face suffering knowing the healer will come.
PATIENCE- There is no such thing as instant discipleship.  While we may be instant disciples- we grow in faith, we follow ever ploddingly along the path.  I remember talking to a seven year old once who said, “Well it is like this preacher…I once was on the wrong path and I used to be selfish.  But now I am no longer selfish or wrong.”  I think that is cute, but not right- all of our life we need to grow and learn and mature in faith and trust.  James gives a great every day lesson.  When a farmer plants a seed there is not instant growth- we have to wait until the proper time.
Patience is important in suffering and it is important in growing as a Christian.
In this context it tells us to quit grumbling.  Quit complaining.  Somehow we have to separate ourselves from the ideas that we are consumers of God.  The consumer mentality is that just like the car dealership, the retail store, the amazon shipping, even the government  is there to serve us, so God also is there to serve us.  Kennedy’s greatest words were “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  It is the same with God.  So do not grumble when you face difficulties- and no matter how smart, how talented, how blessed you are- you will face difficulties.  Learn to face them with grace.  When people rub you the wrong way; when they say bad things or hurtful things against you- see these things as learning experiences that teach us about patience, grace, and yes even love.  Love first of all is patient and kind.   God and everyone else does not exist to serve us.  We are not consumers but disciples.
There are hundreds of stories of patience while surviving the Italian earthquake last week. Father Krzysztof Kozlowski had been priest of Accumoli, one of the towns destroyed. He himself was trapped under the rubble with no way out for hours until rescuers came.  He spoke of facing fear and having patience underneath the rubble til help came.  Many of us are under different kinds of rubbles.  We all face various kinds of crosses.  Let us face our crosses not with panic but trust and patience.
PERSEVERANCE- Patience teaches us how to hope and listen in suffering.  Perseverance teaches us to not give up and run away.  He does not speak of “The Patience of Job” but the perseverance of Job here.  This is the only time Job is mentioned in the New Testament.  James is saying we need to learn from Job.  Anything worth having in life is worth persevering in.   Job suffered- but he did not give up.
Today people give up.  Christians need to quit retreating and instead push ahead.  When we are brave enough to stand up for what is right and true, the world will see and also gain courage that it is important to do what is good.  Quit giving up- on your friends, on your family, on your faith.  Postmodernism’s greatest fault and the greatest fault of our day- is an inability to believe that loyalty or faithfulness matters.  What we lose with that is in inability to trust.  Trust that your parents will be there for you- trust that your loved ones will love you- that promises and morals matter at all.  James is saying there is a reason to hope- Jesus; there is a way to have hope- patience; there is a way to get to hope- perseverance.  At a Greater Atllanta Presbytery meeting Vic Penz told this story, “Urgessa Biru, a Sudanese pastor, told in matter-of-fact tones how as a teenage boy when he became a Christian he was disowned by his Muslim family. He said, “I had to choose family or Jesus. I chose Jesus.” Then he went to the university where he was discriminated against for his faith and finally given an ultimatum: convert to Islam or leave. He said, “I had to choose an education or Jesus. I chose Jesus.” Later, he migrated to Canada and at last received his degree and went on to earn a PhD. Then he sensed God calling him to return to Ethiopia to do ministry among the poor. He went back and before long found that in spite of his service to the poor, local religious leaders had given a fatwa calling for him to be killed. Urgessa went directly to the extremist leaders and said, “I have come back to Ethiopia to love you and to serve you. Please know that if you kill me, you will have done so because of my love and service to you.” Today a number of rural Muslim villages have opened their arms and are welcoming Urgessa’s ministry to their poor and hungry. “  Wait on God to come to you- have hope in His appearing; wait on Him with patience and do not give up.