Have you ever wondered if some parts of Scripture were written with the express purpose of stimulating an eye-roll in others? I do. Drive up windows at fast food restaurants and ATMs throughout the mall have fostered a generation of impatient people. Twitter, Face book, text messaging and cell phones have all made it possible for us to reach others around the globe in a matter of seconds, so that these days patience has become passé. We do not like to practice patience, nor do we want to hear about it, which makes one wonder how we twenty-first century Christians could possibly find anything of value in the statements made in James’ epistle to the church.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” James 5:7-10 NAS
“Be patient…,” James writes, inferring that we are to exhibit a patient endurance that waits through every moment, day after day, year after year until Jesus returns. Statements like that make me wonder: Who can possess such patience, and how would I have to change, in order to possess it for myself?
The great thing about God’s Word is that it not only asks the questions, but also provides solid answers. In James’ epistle we glean several valuable tips for adopting a patient lifestyle.
- Remember the Farmer: Farmers turn over the soil, fertilize their fields, purchase seeds and place them in the ground. After that, they wait, patiently. We know their waiting is patient, because they neither venture back to turn the dirt once more, nor do they pick seeds back out of the ground. To do so would be disastrous. Instead, the farmer waits.
- Practice Delayed Gratification: How sweet is the cherry you pop into your mouth right off the limb, fresh from the orchard? Compare it to the cherry you pop out of the freezer in the dead of winter, where no blossom is evident and no warm breeze blows. Incomparably sweeter, is the later. Wait for the sweetness.
- Develop a Strong Heart: James is not suggesting calisthenics here. Rather, the very real truth that those who bank their blessings during the good times reap a harvest during the lean times. Read good books, write a poem, compose a song or lead a Bible study; do things that increase your joy, bank that feeling down deep in your soul, and when the scorching winds of suffering blow, you’ll have a rich cache of joy. Wait for the joy.
- Stop Bickering and Complaining: Like worry, complaining never helps. Better to wait on God’s will and his Word. “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you.” Philippians 2:14