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. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!
For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 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.
Popular wisdom says it’s a risky proposition to pray for patience, because God may teach you patience the hard way. I suppose there may be some truth to that idea, but we don’t believe God has a cruel sense of humor when He answers our prayers. All of us could certainly benefit from the ability to endure life’s mishaps and hardships, so don’t be afraid to pray for patience. The sort of patience we need most is what the Bible often calls perseverance, the strength to keep going despite difficulty. It’s easier to be patient when you are waiting for something good, like watching a pie bake in the oven. It’s also easier to be patient when you already know how long you will have to wait, like counting the days until Christmas or waiting for the birth of a child. The challenge comes when we have to wait for the unknown, the unwanted or the unpleasant. Then patience can turn from a test of endurance into a trial of faith.
James had in mind two types of patience. The first is the spiritual or devotional patience of waiting for Jesus to return. Even those who knew Jesus in the flesh expected him to return in their lifetimes, and now 2,000 years later, we still wait patiently for Jesus’ second coming. We wait because He promised to return and because we believe his coming will signal the end of suffering and the darkness of this world. We wait expectantly and joyfully for the “coming of the Lord.” The other type of patience James encourages us to pursue is endurance through suffering, that is, perseverance. He points us to the prophets who were persecuted and to Job who suffered at the hands of Satan. In both cases, these people experienced great suffering without surrendering their faith in God’s goodness, which tells us something about the nature of patience for believers. We endure suffering in faith. We persevere through God’s strength. We stand strong in the midst of trial and suffering not by simply gritting our teeth but by faithfully trusting God to sustain us. Job and the prophets suffered real pain and sorrow, but they didn’t allow hardship to erode their love for the Lord. Instead, they leaned more heavily on God, even growing in their faith through suffering.
May that be true of your faith as you grow in patience!
Gracious Lord, thank You for always loving me. Give me patience through hard days, and teach me always to lean on You for wisdom, strength and peace. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.____________________________
Pastor Mike Mirakian