With God’s permission, Satan destroyed Job’s wealth, killed his children, and attacked his health. Job ended up on a garbage heap scratching painful sores. Yet, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22). To his wife’s despair, he responded, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).
No wonder James presented Job as a prime example of perseverance in trials (v. 11)! Job is the second example of patience. He stood firm “in the face of suffering”; he also endured the misguided and theologically false accusations of his friends in addition to his other troubles. He never stopped believing in God’s love and justice, even though his sufferings confused him and his “miserable comforters” angered him. God “finally brought about” Job’s vindication and restoration (Job 42). James is the only book in the New Testament that explicitly mentions Job; the Jewish believers who originally read this epistle would have been well-versed in the story and encouraged to endure their own trials.
The other example of patience is the prophets (v. 10). They had the privilege of speaking in the name of the Lord, but their ministries were often unsuccessful by human standards. They were ignored, mocked, and persecuted. Jeremiah lamented, “the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long” (20:7–18). Yet they obediently persevered.
Saying that those who persevere are counted as “blessed” gives us an eternal perspective on our circum-stances. The examples of Job and the prophets exhort and encourage us to godly patience and endurance of hardship and demonstrate that “the Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (v. 11).
Many believers have suffered and even died for their faith in Jesus. Their stories are told in classics like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, as well as by contemporary organizations such as Voice of the Martyrs. These stories can inspire your own witness for Jesus as well as remind you to pray for suffering Christians.