Patience seems to be one of the things that is in constant need in day-to-day life, but it is not commonly sought out. I know I have become so attuned to having almost anything at my fingertips almost immediately that I need to be reminded daily, even hourly to be patient. We have restaurants that serve our food, sometimes within seconds. We have computers and phones that can provide information at an amazing rate. We have automobiles and planes that take us great distances in hours when those trips used to take days or even weeks. With so many things available so quickly we often don’t see much need for patience in most of the things we do. We lose track of patience in the rush of life.
The concept of patience has been looming large over our house for some time. Our 5-year-old daughter is really beginning to grasp the concept of time. With this learning process she constantly wants to know when will we be home, when are we going to this or that place, and my favorite, how long until Christmas. No matter how short the length of time we give, it is always too long. The answer is always the same; you need to be patient. But when I start thinking about it her response is not far off from my own in many cases. The food served within minutes at the restaurant takes too long to be brought to the table. The computer is acting slow (forgetting that I used to have to open an encyclopedia or dictionary to learn what I wanted). It is in these humbling instances that I realize I am not so different from my 5-year-old. I need patience just as much as she does. We all do.
It is in James 5:7-11 that we are reminded to be patient waiting on the Lord. James tells us to consider the patience of the farmer. They wait for the rains in the spring and fall to nourish their crops and wait once more for the harvest to ripen. They wait for something that is outside of their control. They have no other choice but to be patient. This is how we need to be patient in our daily lives but more importantly how we need to patiently wait for Christ’s return. The farmers may be waiting on the spring and fall rains but the crops are slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, growing. This is out of their control also. And so it is with God in our lives. He is constantly shaping and growing us as we learn to be patient.
In the later verses of the section, James relates patience with suffering and endurance. He points to the prophets as well as Job as examples of patiently enduring suffering while waiting on the Lord. We know because Christ suffered that we shall suffer in life. We also know that by enduring through suffering our faith grows. The idea of patiently enduring suffering is beautifully stated in 1 Peter:20-21
“Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong.
But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.
He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:20-21
Patiently enduring anything can be a trial in itself. Patiently enduring suffering can seem like an impossibility. Suffering is one thing that most people will do anything to avoid. People have devoted their entire lives around avoiding suffering and seeking comfort. And yet, patiently enduring suffering for the Lord is something that we are called to do. It is not optional, but we are reassured that it is worth it. This reassurance should bolster our patience and set our eyes and hearts upon Christ.
As we continue to try to teach our daughter about patience and endurance I will always be reminded about my need for patience in everyday life as well as the endurance needed to serve Christ in an honoring way. My hope is that we all grow in patience that is so desperately needed now more than ever.