Be Patient Until the Lord Comes
“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 late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” James 5: 7-11
We live in a very impatient society. We learn from an early age that time is money so if we are not rushing than we are wasting time and losing money. And yet it seems that we spend so much of our time waiting. We wait for the light to turn green, for the progress bar to finish, for the water to boil, for vacation time to come, for retirement, and for many other events, big and small, to either arrive or to complete.
As we allow more and more pressure to be put on us to perform faster and faster, it generates more and more stress in us. The stress causes us to become less and less patient, possibly resulting in outbursts or anger and impatience. When riding with one of my friends, he would start yelling, “You can go! You can go! You can go!” when the light turned green and the car in front wouldn’t move immediately. If you have been to a big city like New York, you learn quickly that people are very impatient and seem to function in that mode, and are even proud of it. They are quick to beep their horn or shout out obscenities, and consider it part of the city culture. All of us are faced with the pressure to move quickly and get things done, and to produce as quickly as possible. We also expect the same of others and become impatient if they don’t. This attitude of impatience infiltrates all areas of our lives as it is a part of our western culture (at least here in the USA).
On the flip side, I find it amazing that the things that we look forward to with so much anticipation are usually anticlimactic, that is, they usually don’t deliver what we expect. It’s like we are motivated by the expectation, but then disappointed when we reach the desired goal, so we quickly shift our attention to the next anticipated future event to again motivate us. Ultimately, this approach leads to frustration and even despair, and this could also contribute to an increase in our impatience.
There are two problems that I’m pointing out here: first is our tendency towards being impatient as we are trained to do so in this society by being pressured to move and work at a fast pace, as well as the desire for immediate results, and second is our misplaced anticipations, when we place them on the things of this world and allow our expectations to be set very high as a means of motivation or whatever the case.
As Christians we must deal with both of these problems. In fact, I would say that there is a high importance on getting this right in our lives. The Lord has placed a very high value on patience. Have you considered why? Consider this verse:
“Love is patient…..” 1 Corinthians 13: 4
“For the fruit of the Spirit is……patience…..” Galatians 5:22
When we think about being patient we don’t always equate this to love. Nor do we always recognize patience as a fruit of the spirit or as being spiritual. But patience is a part of the very nature of God. Jesus displayed patience, and patience in suffering, as He lived His life here on the earth and suffered for us as He was beaten and crucified as an innocent man.
There are many scripture verses that emphasize the importance of patience or patient endurance towards the hope that we have in the return of Jesus, but I chose to look closer at the above quoted verses in James. James begins this letter with an exhortation to be patient:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (endurance or perseverance). But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (or mature) and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1: 2-4
In these initial verses from James also lies a key to our ability to be patient, that is, that we must change our attitude towards the difficult circumstances that we face, recognizing that they have been allowed by God for the testing of our faith. When our faith is tested and we endure, it produces in us an increase in our godly character, and more specifically, it produces patience in us.
Allow me to spell this out: When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances that require us to wait and endure patiently, there is nothing wrong, but this is exactly what God wants for us. We need to submit to it, rather than attempting to circumvent or side step around the circumstances, and recognize that this is the testing of our faith and that God has ordained the trial for us to endure. In His time, He will open a door for us to move on or to be removed from our situation. It will be clear to us that it is time to move on, otherwise, If we don’t submit to the Lord’s will by continuing in the circumstances, these circumstances (or something similar or perhaps even more difficult) will only come back upon later.
I like what it says in verse 8 of James 5:
“You also be patient. Establish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:8
In the Amplified Bible, after “Establish your hearts”, it adds in brackets, “Strengthen and confirm them (i.e. your hearts) in final certainty.” Here lies the second key related to the second problem that we have mentioned. Rather than placing our hope and expectations upon something in this world that will only disappoint us, we need to establish our hearts upon the hope that we have in heaven and make up our minds to be steadfast in our focused anticipation of the glory that we will share with Jesus Christ at the end. There is tremendous power in this hope, as the scriptures attest to:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8: 18
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18
As Christians, we therefore have the perfect solution to the problems of impatience and stress. I don’t say this lightly because this solution was brought to us by the Lord Jesus Christ and was paid for by His life and death, to establish our hope of glory that is incorruptible and assured beyond all doubt. As we patiently endure through this life, we have the example of the endurance of the past prophets and saints, and the endurance of the Lord Jesus. Armed with this knowledge we know that whatever the situation that we face, we can get through it by the grace of God as they have done in the past. We also are confident that God is on our side and is even using our trials to work into us a more Christ-like nature of love that will only make us stronger and give us more reward in the end.
As Christians we should be known for our patience and our ability to endure hardships. Let us establish our hearts in strength and set our faces like flint towards the future hope that we have in Christ not allowing any circumstances to undermine our character or cause us to become impatient. We now know the source of our strength: a changed attitude towards the trials that we face and a steadfast hope set on the promise of future glory in heaven. My prayer is that everyone who reads this will find this source of strength, and even more so, so that they will persevere until the end, when Jesus returns. Amen.