Dec. 2 – Revelation 21-22- Andy Moore (CCO)
In his latest book, Strong and Weak, Andy Crouch has a very interesting quote on suffering, which he defines as, “vulnerability without authority.” Crouch says, “None of us make it very far in life without spending time in the corner of suffering. Suffering can be the result of injustice and evil, but it touches even the most sheltered lives. Suffering will come into your life earlier than you expected, in the form of risks you cannot manage and pain you cannot avoid, a room with no exit. Ultimately suffering is the last word of every human life, no matter how privileged or powerful.” In other words, every human suffers.
It is an equalizer. You have suffered at some point in your life, or you will suffer, or perhaps you are suffering right now. As it says in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, “To suffer is as human as to breathe.” The Epistle of James, chapter 5, has an interesting prescription for people who are enduring suffering: patience. When someone we know is hurt or suffering, we usually don’t say, “You just have to be patient.” That doesn’t help.
So, what does James mean by being patient during suffering? What is Biblical patience? First, being patient means working hard and not being slothful. It means being faithful to God and what he has entrusted to us. Second, it means remaining steadfast in our faith. Remaining steadfast is this idea, that no matter what bad things come your way, no matter how outnumbered you are, no matter how bad your suffering is, you remain unwavering with your faith in God. Third, it means calmly waiting through a trial, without complaint. If we believe the third point, then what exactly are we waiting for? If we are waiting on something, then we must expect results. We wait on Hope.
I think we often use a very confused, 21st Century definition of what hope is. When we use the word “hope,” we often mean, “Wishful thinking that things might get better.” This hope is finite and not concrete. What is real, Biblical hope? Biblical hope mean, “I Know thing will get better.” It is definite. It is concrete. It will happen. Revelation 21:4-5 states, “’He (Jesus) will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” This is hope. This is what we cling to in the midst of suffering. A world that is free from suffering, death, mourning, crying, and pain. If we held onto this 21st century watered down version of hope, a hope that trusts in the abilities of man, we would have nothing. We may believe that the world is getting better through mankind, but there will always be another murderer, or liar, or adulterer, or megalomaniac. If we held onto that hope, we would have no reason to exist. But the hope that is Jesus Christ, that is real. The Hope that Christ is coming again and making all things new. That is everlasting. That will happen. So we do just what James prescribed: we remain patient. We wait for Hope.