The other example of steadfastness James gives is Job. His is a remarkable story. Job lost everything when he had done nothing wrong:
his oxen and donkeys were stolen by Sabeans and his servants killed (Job 1:15);
his sheep and servants were killed by fire from heaven, maybe lightning (1:16);
Chaldeans took his camels and killed his servants; (1:19)
his children were killed by a great wind (1:19); and
he was struck with sores from head to toe (2:7)
Yet, in the midst of this suffering, Job remained faithful. His wife told him to give up his integrity, curse God and die. (2:9)
But Job responded by worshipping God in his grief. (1:20-21) He stayed faithful. (27:1-6)
Job recognized God's sovereignty over his life, God's right to do with it as he wills. Listen to his words:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Matt Redman wrote a song that seems to be a meditation on the first chapter of Job. He calls it “Blessed be your name”. Here is one stanza:
Blessed be your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name.
God restored Job’s fortunes twice over. (42:10) He considered Job righteous. (Ezekiel 14:14)
Our fortunes may not be restored until heaven. So, James does not encourage his readers, or us, to wait for God to do that. Rather, he encourages us to wait for Jesus will return. That is when we receive our reward. We want to be like the servant whose master said “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21) This is from the parable of the talents, a story of rewards in heaven. Note that it says “after a long time the master of those servants came” after going away. Jesus may take a long time to return, but we must be faithful and steadfast.
James says we have the example of the prophets and Job, but we have more. We know the purpose of the Lord, how he is compassionate and merciful. God purposes to sanctify us. Romans 8:29 tells us “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son”. That requires sanctification. Ephesians 1:4 says God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
God also purposes to bring glory to himself through us. Job brought glory to God in his steadfastness. Our friend Monica brings glory to God as she stands fast in her faith in the face of cancer.
But God is also compassionate. He does to bring suffering to us for fun. He cares about our pain. And he is merciful. He not only delivers us from hell, but from many sufferings and temptations.