Daily Reflection #300 – Milestone!

Welcome to the 300th Daily Reflection – what a journey it has been since the start of the COVID pandemic. A big thank you to all those involved in the daily reflections…

James 5:10 – 12
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 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.
12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

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As I sat down to prepare this reading, I am surrounded by four small grandchildren aged 4 and under, the words of this passage took on a whole new meaning. Although we are past the unenviable stage of sleepless nights, we are still going through the never-ending valley of “why” and almost every sentence we utter is punctuated with “share nicely”. Parenting and even grand-parenting are great examples of patience, perseverance and consistency. A child will soon suss out if you are a push-over or inconsistent.

These traits are indeed vital to parenting as they teach our children how to become great adults, they are also just as essential for us to develop as growing believers.

Our children watch us as we parent and the world watches us as we live out our daily lives as Christians. Is our faith really genuine? How do we behave when trials and suffering come?

James speaks of both patience and perseverance. Some believe that James used “patience” to speak mainly of the believer’s response to other people while using “endurance” to refer to getting through trials.
James first of all encourages us to be as patient as the prophets of the Old Testament, who spent their entire lives patiently repeating God’s message to his people, usually with no thanks or recognition, rather they were met with hostility and persecution. James then singles out Job as a great example of perseverance. Although we don’t always look to Job as one who endured suffering faithfully. He did complain a lot and demanded an answer to why he was suffering. We do know that he never abandoned his faith. Throughout his entire ordeal of questions why God would allow the things to happen to him, he clung to God and continued to hope in him. It is only usually at the end of a trial or period of suffering do we see how God has worked in us to transform us and to make us stronger and more like him.

In the final verses of today’s reading, James also reminds us of the importance of keeping our word and being men and women of integrity. If we are known as such, we should not need to make an oath or a promise as our reputation will go before us. It is so easy to speak without thinking – how often do we say “I will pray for you” and then promptly forget until we see that person again. We can so easily be worn down under pressure and the constant demands of others, even other Christians and so we agree with others to appease them. Thinking about what we say before we speak is fairly tricky for some of us. But I believe that James is underlining his point from earlier in his letter: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Not making rash promises and following through are key to how we are as Christians in today’s world where broken promises abound and integrity seems to be an increasingly rare commodity.

Let us pray: Father God, help us to hold onto you when we are going through the trials and tribulations that befall us. Amid our questions and our doubts, we want to still put all our trust in you. Help us to listen for your promptings before we speak, so that we may be known as people of integrity. Amen.

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