“Patience is a virtue . . . you get it from your kids.”
“God give me patience . . . and I want it now!”
We laugh about patience, joke about it even, but how many of us work at getting it? We treat it as though it’s something one is born with, and if we don’t have it – well, we don’t have it and that’s that.
“I have no patience with that man,” someone will say, as though he has no choice or it’s the other man’s fault.
James doesn’t see it that way. “Be patient,” he told Christians who were scattered in exile, living in a world that wasn’t kind to them. Just do it. Be it. He reminds me of my mother, who used to tell me when I was moping to “Be happy” – or go to my room until I could figure out how.
“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
The Greek word translated “patience” in James 5 is makrothumia. “Longsuffering.” This is not the patience we normally think of, which involves tolerating rush-hour traffic or the antics of small children. Webster’s defines it first as “bearing or enduring pain, trouble, etc. without complaining or losing self-control; refusing to be provoked or angered…; forbearing; tolerant; … steady; diligent; persevering.”
There’s a lot of strength in patience.
Patience is important because there’s something precious to be won by practicing it. James gives an example from nature: a farmer plows a field, plants seed, does all he can to produce a harvest of precious grain or fruit. But all he can do is not enough. He must wait for the rains to come. In the fall, the early rains soften the ground for planting and start germination. In the spring, the late rains enable the fruit to mature.
The farmer can wait patiently because he knows those rains are going to come. We can wait patiently because we know the Lord will come and make things right. Injustice will be judged; the poor, afflicted, and righteous will be rewarded; pain will be changed for blessing. When he comes … and he will come.
Patience is a choice we make, or perhaps it comes from a thousand little daily choices. Patience is a way of life. It may seem like a lost virtue, but it is worth striving for.
According to James, patient endurance leads to maturity and wholeness (1:4) and carries us toward the “crown of life” God promises to those who love him (1:12). It leads to happiness (5:11), which in the Bible means being endowed with every blessing.
I used to read a devotional book by Oswald Chambers called My Utmost for His Highest. In it, he has this to say about patience:
“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
Let’s strive to be patient.
No, let’s BE patient. May God give us the grace we need.
©2020 Sarah Christmyer
You might like these related posts: