Bible Articles

Bible Articles

Developing Patience

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, or with any other oath. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No,' lest you fall into judgment." (James 5:7-12)

When do we need patience? You would likely answer this question "all the time," or "whenever I must deal with ________________." Patience is shown to be especially needed when there are uncontrollable events in our lives. Dealing with the current pandemic is a test of our ability to patiently endure isolation, confinement and uncertainty about unfolding events. The above passage from James shows us the help God has already provided. Our patience is to develop as we wait for God to work out this plan in His way and in His time. The farmer needs great patience when his crop desperately needs rain. He needs it early to bring his crop out of the ground, he needs it later to make it mature, then he longs for dry weather for harvest. None of those weather events are under the farmer's control! He must be patient. Our lives are often full of uncontrollable predicaments.

We need great patience as we deal with unchangeable people. The prophets had to deal with people who committed the same sins over and over. Think of the work and messages of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. They worked with and preached to obstinate people. The afflictions suffered by the prophets were endurable only with great patience.

Our patience is severely tested when there are unexplainable problems. When bad things happen to good people, as in the case of Job, we have to struggle to remain steadfast.

The very existence of things over which we have no control should make us look to the One who is in control. God has a timetable for events, He has a time chosen for the end of all things. He rewards with happiness those who patiently endure the changes life brings. Noah waited many years until the flood came. Moses was eighty years old when he began to lead the people of God. Joseph endured a painful separation from his family for twenty years until he came to see the hand of God at work in his life. Christians enjoy the assurance Paul promised his Philippian brethren: "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13) Our job is to steadfastly do the will of God and endure to the end. Such determination serves us well, serves God well, and results in satisfaction and happiness as we more and more anticipate heaven.

Patience works within us in wonderful ways. The farmer has an expectation of the "precious fruit of the earth" and is commended by the inspired writer for his "long" patience. The "plant, grow, harvest" sequence has been well established by God and is expected by the farmer to continue. There is a quiet confidence in the demeanor of the patient man or woman. We are naturally drawn to such people. The impatient person, in contrast, is likely to be full of tensions which are often loudly expressed or communicated nonverbally. James advises "Do not grumble against one another, brethren..." (James 5:9)

Patience may work for us to develop a dependence on God's word. You have heard, no doubt, a Christian say, "The Lord will take care of this" when that person can see no earthly solution to a problem. James advises us "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." (James 5:8)

In summary, this passage from James commands that we be patient until Jesus returns. We are taught those circumstances when our patience is tested, that we must depend upon God, and practical ways that patience works within us. We must learn how to wait. The prophet Micah's confidence can be ours: "Therefore, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me."

Diana Ball's song "In His Time" has a petition which captures this thought:

"Lord, please show me every day,

            As You're teaching me Your way,

That You do just what You say,

            In Your time."