February 12, 2020

Hanging On By a Thread

James 5:7-11

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.

—  James 5:11

A friend of a friend called me: “Pastor, I can’t do this anymore. Would God really want me to suffer like this, day after day, with no relief?” His illness was tormenting him, and he was looking for permission to end his life. He wondered if God would be angry with him.

Suffering is not God’s will. It is part of life in this broken world; God’s light has broken into the darkness, but we still long for the complete fulfillment of God’s plan. Jesus is coming again to restore every­thing. Meanwhile, life can be excruciatingly difficult, and we—as God’s people—are called to persevere. Hold on tightly to hope.

James reminds readers of the perseverance of the prophets and of Job, a man who suffered greatly when he lost all his children, all his possessions, and his health. Yet he did not lose hope or give up. God was there with him and eventually restored his possessions and gave him abundantly more.

The point of Job’s story is not that he regained possessions but that he persevered in his faith in God and that God demonstrates compassion and mercy.

This is the only reply I could give to the friend who was almost ready to give up: Your life is precious to God. Hang on until God says it’s time to come home.

Jesus, you know agony and suffering, and you empathize with us when we struggle to face yet another day of pain and uncertainty. May we feel your loving arms surround us as we push forward. Amen.

About the author — Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Bonny Mulder-Behnia is a pastor in Bellflower, California, with 25 years of experience in church staff, educational, congregational, and pastoral ministry. She is married to Jahan and has two adult children and a grandson.

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