Patience in the Waiting on the Lord
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. (James 5: 7)
In this specific portion of James’ letter, he addresses any frustrations and outright misery that Christians not only will experience, but are to actually endure. I encourage you to read verses 1-6 where James also points out that those who are the “elite” are just one source of oppression or even persecution upon both the poor and the righteous. God assures us that He will deal with their treachery against fellow mankind. How He deals with them, may be in this lifetime where justice is served or after this lifetime where Jesus will hand down His judgment. We must never forget that God is patient and desires that none should (eternally) perish (2 Peter 3:9). I look at it in the following way, this is just one of the reasons the Body of Christ is exhorted to be patient and to endure. So that we “also” can experience and express the compassion that magnifies Christ’s light when we speak to our oppressors about salvation through Christ.
James provides examples for us to meditate about. Imagine being any of the prophets sent to either a sinful person or to speak over an entire sinful nation? How many of us would trade off our personal trouble in the present moment for the troubles any prophet of old had to endure for the remainder of their lifetime, while being obedient to God? How many of us would trade off any persecution we’re dealing with now, with the persecution the Apostles experienced and endured for the remainder of their lives? Or Job as James points out, imagine all he lost, all the pain of infirmity, all the accusations and persecution by a wife and close friends? At least his misery did not last the remainder of his lifetime however, the point is that “while” Job was suffering, he is an example of enduring through the misery even when no end is in sight.
What helped them to hold on and endure? The very assurance they held to is the same assurance we’re reminded of in this letter by James. We cannot forget the promises of God. For those in the New Covenant, the promise and assurance that Christ Jesus will return is above all and is thus, our HOPE in Christ Jesus. Be strong in your faith and when times are tough to the point of agonizing in misery, be strengthened to hold on in knowing all of God’s promises are faithful and true.
James stresses the need for patience because impatience leads to grumbling (murmuring) and what we say through our frustrations will most likely be unrighteous in nature. God is producing a maturity within us to be more like Christ. Just like the farmers, they cannot reap mature and plentiful crops, if due to impatience, they harvest before that final maturing. The “latter” rain signaled the timing for harvest. We are to wait on God’s timing. By complaining and grumbling in the meantime, we are failing in growing the way God desires for us to mature. Ultimately, God is to produce the Fruit of the Holy Spirit “in” us (Galatians 5:22-23). This cannot be accomplished when we fail in surrendering to the manner or means in which He has chosen to mold us.
Impatience is fruit of our flesh and its purpose is to hinder or worse, stop the work God is doing in us. The impatience also causes us to doubt any and all promises God has faithfully expressed to all of mankind and more specifically, to YOU! Why, the grumbling and complaining is evidence of our heart hardening against God’s will.
Ask yourself, am I finding God in the midst of my trouble? The answer will always be, “yes!” In the moment, we may not be able to see His movement or even “feel” His presence, but be assured, in time you will find He is always with you. Through the patience in enduring any and all hardship, you will ALWAYS find that God was truly with you. Also, you will find a greater hope in patiently waiting for the glorious return of His Son, Jesus Christ.