“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
Today’s verses focus on patience, something we all need more of, especially during these unpredictable times. For nearly a year we have been living in a global pandemic, and I think we have all had times of extreme impatience. Impatience with our home-schooled children, impatience with our families as we isolate, impatience with the restrictions placed upon us, impatience with mixed message & uncertainty, impatience with wearing masks everywhere we go. Yes, it is very hard be patient these days.
James, in chapter 5, verse 7, advises us to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s return, using farmers as an example of patience:
7 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. (NLT)
How many of us are patiently waiting for the Lord’s return? How many of us are impatiently waiting for the Lord’s return? How many of us are not ready for the Lord’s return?
I am in the second category – impatiently waiting for the Lord’s return. I admit it, I can’t wait for Him to return to this earth, and I pray it will happen in my lifetime. However, I must not remain only focused on His return, but on my own attitude and behaviour as I await it. Here, James gives us further instructions:
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 honour 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.
12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. (NLT)
James is giving us specific examples of how to remain patient. He tells us not to grumble about each other. How many of us are guilty of that? I know I am. I have sinned through impatience and anger towards friends, family, and strangers many times. I have complained about others and spoken poorly of them. It is something I am continually working on and praying about to be become more patient and kinder with those around me.
Those who know me well know that patience is not one of my strengths. My ability to be patient has improved over the years, as well as my attitude during times where patience and endurance is required. However, I must actively work at daily and be fully self-aware of the times when I am failing at it.
I have struggled with patience and endurance throughout the pandemic. But in those times of struggle, God has drawn me close to Him. He has taught me more about endurance and patience during this season than in previous trials in my life. And He has pointed me to Biblical examples of those, like Jesus, who endured unimaginable suffering.
James also points us to those in the Bible who have faced immense struggle, like Job. Job suffered so much, as God allowed Satan to test him. He lost everything – his wealth, his health, his family – yet his faith never wavered. He grieved deeply, accepted his suffering and never once blamed God, but continued to worship Him.
“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.” Job 1:20 (NLT)
What an incredible example of faith Job was. In the end, the Lord, who is full of love & mercy for us all, blessed Job greatly.
Do we, like Job, turn to praise God when we suffer? Is our faith on solid ground despite terrible things that happen? Most of us are quick to praise God when something good happens, but we need to be just as quick to praise him when the bad happens too, just like Job. It is important to note that Job didn’t stop himself from mourning his losses. He grieved greatly. We need to grieve when we experience loss and suffering, and God grieves with us. He doesn’t expect us to be indestructible or unaffected by pain, but He does want us to turn to Him in our sorrow.
Do you turn to God first in times of struggle? Do you praise Him even as you grieve? Are you finding strength in Him during suffering?
James has a final instruction for us in these verses: never take an oath by heaven or earth. He tells us to simply say yes or no. I believe this is applicable to our daily language as we have so many common phrases that involve swearing to the Lord or taking His name in vain. James is asking us, as He has before, to watch our tongues and speak in simple truth.