James 5:7-11: “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door! 10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.”
I’m not a very patient person. Growing up, we did a lot of gardening. I spent hours grooming the rose bushes, pulling weeds, watering the vegetables and blackberries. The fruit of this labor was slow going. I remember one year we grew watermelons, and I picked the first one that showed up. I picked it weeks ahead of time, and it was inedible. Gross, actually. I also spent a lot of time fishing. There is a reason it is called fishing and not catching. We would occasionally go hours (and sometimes the entire day) without catching anything. When I was a kid, I would quickly get impatient and want to go swimming or go back to the truck to read.
I don’t like to wait!
As a culture, we are not very patient people either. We quickly get annoyed if the drive-thru takes too long. We jump on our phone at stoplights to “check the buzz” on social media or email, not wanting to miss anything. We have started to opt for short flights instead of train or car rides. Speed limits are increasing all over the United States (and some are eliminating them all together!).
Let’s be honest, how many of you check Facebook or Twitter during dinners? During your kids’ game? During your pastor’s sermon? When you go get coffee, you rarely see people just sitting there drinking coffee or having conversations without the phone or laptop opened. The most telling sign of our lack of patience is the “I want it now” mentality. We don’t use layaway or have a lot of savings; instead, the massive amounts of debt that the average American family has is growing at a ridiculous pace (our government debt is growing faster!).
James is getting ready to conclude his letter. He is wrapping things up. He has encouraged us through trials and tribulations to keep the big picture in mind. Return to James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Believers are encouraged to persevere during trials. Perseverance is closely linked with patience (in chapter 5, James talks about patience for the believer and uses Job’s perseverance as an example.) He returns to this idea of patience to offer some final thoughts. Over the next three blog posts, we will see three actions to take and three examples to follow as we wait for the Lord’s return. Since followers of Jesus have already been waiting 2,000 years, and we don’t know when Jesus is returning, we need to be patient as we await His return. We should get used to waiting!
Some questions to consider:
-Would you consider yourself a patient person? Why or why not?
-What makes you anxious?-How can you develop patience?