James 5:11 – Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
As a pastor, you get the honor of having a front-row seat to the most sacred days in people’s lives. On one of these days, I went to the hospital to visit an elderly saint who had lived a very painful life. She was engaged, but her fiancée ran off with her friend leaving her to never marry. Not long after being abandoned, she developed some debilitating health problems that had her in a wheelchair or hospital bed at unexpected times throughout her life. She served as the secretary at a Bible-based church until the denomination went apostate, took the building, and dismantled the church she had given her life to serving. Later in life, she and some widows built a close-knit group of friends she fondly referred to as the “Golden Girls”. Eventually, she buried every one of those friends and was left very much alone.
To me, she was a spiritual giant. She loved the Lord Jesus and never much complained about the hand life dealt her. Her life was hard, but her heart was soft. Her life was traumatic, but her faith was steadfast.
Before entering her hospital room, the nurse informed me she was near death and that there had not been other visitors. Though I loved her much, I did not know her well, but I was honored to be at her side before she made the final journey to Jesus’ side.
As a very young new pastor, I was unsure what to say, so I pulled up a chair so that I could look at her face, which was on the edge of the hospital bed. I will never forget the look on her face. She beamed with a radiant smile and started chuckling. To say she had a personality would be an understatement – she was a character fit for her own reality television show. She winked, looked at me, and said, “Pastor this is the best day of my life. My suffering is over, and my Savior is coming for me!” I was crying, and she was laughing. We were quite a sight.
I was a preacher, but this woman’s life was a sermon about being “patient” and making sure to “not grumble” or “judge” while “suffering” with “steadfastness”. She lived her life proving that “the Lord is at hand” and “how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” to get us through life and safely home.
How does having a strong understanding of the character of Christ Jesus help us stay patient and hopeful?