Verses: James 5:7-9 (ESV)
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
“Be patient” – such an easy instruction to give, and to hear; such an incredibly hard one to follow. Maybe you’ve just found out you’re going to have a baby and you can’t imagine waiting all those long months to hold that precious little one. Or maybe you’ve lost track of how long you’ve been trying to conceive and the wait to hear those magical words, “you’re going to have a baby” seems intolerable. Maybe you’re stuck in a dead-end job and can’t wait for the next opportunity to come along. Or maybe you’ve suddenly lost your job and can’t wait for ANY opportunity to come along. Being patient is hard for countless different reasons.
James, speaking in terms his audience could surely appreciate, uses the example of the farmer, who “waits for the precious fruit of the earth”. And precious it is, for it will not only feed his family through the winter, but the income it produces will keep them clothed, sheltered, and protected.
But as precious a payoff as awaits the farmer, consider what James calls us to await – “the coming of the Lord”. How much more precious than anything we can anticipate in this life?! And how much more worth the wait, the perseverance, the suffering?
As the farmer’s crops establish roots in the soil to bring in nourishment and provide a stable foundation through the long months they will spend growing and flourishing, so James encourages his readers to “establish your hearts”. We must dig our roots in the Word of God and allow it to nourish us and be our foundation. It will surely sustain us as we wait.
As we see in other parts of Scripture, James seems to indicate that the Lord’s coming is imminent. Nearly 2000 years later, it’s easy to scoff at the idea. But I think there are two reasons the topic is presented this way: 1) We view time relative to our own lifespans. 2000 years seems an eternity to us, knowing we will live 90, maybe 100 years at the most. But for God, it’s like the blink of an eye. One day, it will seem that way to us as well. 2) It is an exhortation to constantly live our lives in such a way as to be prepared for the coming. Since it will happen “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52), there won’t be time to “establish your heart” when the time arrives.
Finally, James warns us not to “grumble against one another”. What does grumbling go hand-in-hand with? Yep, impatience. If any of you also have young kids, I know you know what I’m talking about! But why does he tell us “the Judge is standing at the door”? Again, two reasons: 1) As a reminder that God is watching and listening and we will have to make account when the day comes. 2) As a reminder that the time “is at hand”. Who stands by a door but one who is getting ready to open it?!
Lord, grant me the patience to make it through the short-term circumstances I face in this life, but more importantly, the patience to endure this life as a whole and to keep my eyes and mind on the final harvest, when you come to reap what you’ve sown. Help me to remain prepared and not to grumble when impatience begins to seep in. Thank you that you have promised to come back for us. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Author: Dave MacDonald