Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21, 2010

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord." James 5:7-10
This section of Scripture combines to concepts that we neither welcome or understand well - patience and suffering.
I guess that is precisely why James writes about it! We need to understand.
In our fast forward, full speed ahead world, we tend to think of patience as something passive - a waste of time. We don't wait well and we don't do silence very well.
Would it help if I told you that is not what is required here?
Just look at the illustration James uses to show what he means by patience. He uses the illustration of a farmer. I don't know if you grew up around farmers but I did. They are busy people. It is not like they plant their crop in the Spring and sit around all Summer waiting for the harvest. Their waiting for the crop to grow and ripen involves fertilizing it and weeding it and maybe even irrigating it during a prolonged dry spell. Waiting is an activity for farmers and they wait well because they know the payoff is coming with the harvest.
He also points to the spiritual fathers that we all admire. All of them suffered and all of them showed great patience during their period of pain. None more that Job, of course. But we learn from them another version of the same concept. While they were suffering they made positive use of their time. They sought God through prayer and fasting. The meditated on His Word. Mostly, they watched expectantly to see what He would do in the midst. These men of God knew that God never waists pain. He always uses suffering to shape us and mature us and give us understanding of Who He is and how He works. Through our suffering we identify more closely with His sufferings.
It is important to understand that James' admotion to be patient in suffering is not an encouragement to do nothing. We are not to resign ourselves to fate and wait like some helpless victim. Patience understands there are seasons in life and that each season has its purpose. Patience looks for God. Patience longs for God. Patience lives out God's word in obedience and faith. Patience understands that the harvest is coming and the pay off will be sweet!