“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. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained 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 ESV)
The Lord has given to us a tremendous hope. He’s assured us that, one day, Jesus will return. He’s assured us that, when Jesus returns, the dead will be raised imperishable and that those who are alive in Christ will be transformed. He’s assured us of a new heaven and earth. And he’s assured us that we’ll live forever in this new creation, where there is no more suffering, death, or mourning.
As we endure the trials of this life, we can’t help looking forward to the fulfillment of these promises. In fact, we would prefer that Jesus come back now. We would prefer that the hardships of this life would come to an end that we might enjoy the blessings of which Scripture has spoken.
We, however, do not know when this day will come. It may come soon, or it may be generations away. And, for this reason, we are called to patience.
James compares the patience being required of us to that of a farmer, waiting for the fruit of the earth. He has to wait while the crops receive the early and the late rains. He has to wait until the time of harvest is at hand.
He points us also to the patience of the prophets as they proclaimed the Word of God. He points us to Job, who remained steadfast in the face of many trials. Their example is one we can emulate as we look forward in hope.
He then reminds us of the Lord’s purpose. He does so because, as we wait, it’s easy for us to call this into question. As we endure the trials of life, we can begin to question his motives. And God’s purpose, James assures us, is compassionate and merciful.
God’s desire is for our salvation. But it’s not for our salvation alone. He desires the salvation of all mankind. And, as we await Jesus’ return, he’s working for the salvation of the lost.
In the meantime, we’re not to grumble against one another. We’re to avoid this complaining, realizing that it can lead to judgment. It reflects not the patience to which we are called, but our momentary displeasure.
May we, then, look for the Lord’s coming in hope. May we patiently await his return, knowing that God is faithful to his promise. And may we remain steadfast, living in light of this hope, without wavering.