As 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. James 5, verse 11.
Here’s an example of the prophets to whom James alluded in the previous verse. Where, in verse 10, James simply exhorted us to be encouraged by the example of Israel’s prophets, here he tells why we should be encouraged.
Because the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Do you know about Job? It’s one of the most mysterious but powerful books in the Bible. If you aren’t familiar with the story, Satan comes to God and makes a bet with Him that he (Satan) can make God’s most devoted and blessed follower, Job, turn against God. God allows it, so Satan proceeds to wreck Job’s life. As Job is more and more challenged, he eventually confronts God and asks, “why.” God’s response is more than a simple answer: it is an exposition of power, mercy, and grace. What’s more, God then restores Job with more blessings and prosperity than he knew before.
That’s a pretty saccharin synopsis, though. It overlooks some of the harsher aspects of the book, things like the cynical nature of Job’s friends (who are supposed to encourage him), the almost cavalier way in which God allows Satan to wreck all Job knows, and even the cruel nature in which Go allows Job to be tested.
But if that’s all you focus on then you’re missing the point. The example proves how God is compassionate and merciful. God has faith in Job, stating how Job won’t turn from Him. Further, Job clings to God even when things become dire, seeking only explanation when he feels he is at his breaking point. Instead of smashing him like an ant, God stoops to Job’s level and reasons with him, doing something that the all powerful creator of the universe doesn’t have to do for a created being. Instead of slamming Job back into his place, God talks with him, reveals the wonder of His love to Job, and persuades Job to love before he thinks and think before he asks.
Tell me, good reader, how is that different from you? You and I, we may not suffer the way Job did (or maybe we do). Through our suffering, does not God still provide for us? When we have nothing else, so long as we have Jesus, life, and air, do we need anything else to live through the moment? Even when things are dire, God is still who He is and He still provides for us in ways that help us to persevere, endure, overcome, and succeed.
Like Job. Especially when we ask “why.”
Father God, thank You for Your mercy and compassion, and for providing as You do.
Read the book of Job.
How has the Lord been merciful in your life?
How has Jesus been compassionate to you?