James - The Glory of Suffering (Part 2) :: Warren Wiersbe
The second truth is that suffering and glory go together. You can have suffering without glory. Many unsaved people suffer, but they have no lasting glory. You can have suffering without glory, but you cannot have glory without suffering. Satan promises glory without suffering. He offered it to Jesus when he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (see Matt. 4:8-11). Satan said, in effect, “I will give this to You if You will just bow down and worship me.” Jesus refused Satan’s offer. Jesus chose the way of the cross, the glory that comes from suffering.
One day James and John came to Jesus with their mother and said, “We want to ask You a favor.” He said, “What is it?” Their mother spoke up and said, “When You set up Your kingdom, would You arrange that my two sons can sit each on a throne on either side of Your throne?” (see 20:20-28). Isn’t that an interesting request? Jesus said, in effect, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup I am going to drink? Are you able to experience the baptism that I’m going to experience?” And they very calmly and blindly said, “Yes, we are.” He replied, “You will.” And they did! James was slain, and John was exiled to Patmos. Never pray for glory unless you are prepared to suffer. God’s formula for glory requires that first you suffer, and then He gives the glory.
This principle was true in the life of Jesus. Remember when our Lord, after His resurrection, joined those two despondent men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:!3-35)? He asked, in effect, “What are you talking about?” They said, “We had hoped that this Jesus was the One who would deliver Israel.” All of their hopes were smashed. Then Jesus said, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ [first] to suffer these things and [then] to enter into His glory?” (vv. 25, 26, NASB).
Paul said the same thing in Romans 8:18: “For I recon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Even Peter picked up that message. When you read Peter’s first epistle, you discover suffering and glory over and over again. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, will make you perfect” (I Pet. 5:10). First you suffer, and then there is glory. This is God’s formula.
The third truth is that suffering and glory and grace go together. “The Lord will give grace and glory” (Ps. 84:11). “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while” (I pet. 5:10). Notice the sequence: first the suffering, then the glory. But what is in between? “The God of all grace.” God’s grace turns suffering into glory.
Do you know why we Christians can experience glory when we suffer? It is because of the grace of God. When Paul discovered he had that thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12:7-10), he prayed that God might take it away. I would have done the same thing. But God said, in effect, “Paul, I’m not going to take the thorn away. But I am going to give you grace to turn this into glory.” Paul was able to say, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities” (v. 9). It is grace that turns suffering into glory.
If you are suffering today, depend on the grace of God. The Lord promises, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (v. 9). He is the “God of all grace” (I Pet. 5:10). He can give you grace to face suffering and to come through for His glory. Unsaved people suffer, and they complain about it; but Christians suffer, and they glorify God in it. James reminded us of the glory of suffering. Faith and suffering go together. Suffering and glory go together. Bu the thing that turns suffering into glory is the grace of God.