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. James 5:7b-8
Faking patience. Our own thinking tells us, of course, the lack of affliction causes us to act patient.
That is true.
And as long as all we are concerned with is acting the part, a lack of affliction will suffice.
True patience. The Word of God has a different take on it.
God says we need affliction, troubles, problems, even suffering, in order to learn true patience.
Fake patience will evaporate in any trial. And trials will come.
You know it, too: No pain, no gain, right?
James uses the farmer to illustrate the necessity of waiting and the reward for patience.
When a farmer plants his seeds, he knows that he will have to work and wait before he will see the fruit of his labor. First he tills the ground. Then he plants seed and prays for rain. In a few days he sees something coming up through the ground.
What would you think of a farmer who harvested his crop after those few days’ growth? Would he have anything worth eating or selling?
No, he needs to wait more, be patient more. He wants a strong, mature crop. That takes time. He has to work—tilling, weeding, irrigating—and wait until the process is complete. If he harvests too early, he will ruin it.
Parents must be patient too.
The first nine months seem to go forever. It’s a difficult wait, but a good chance to do the work of accumulating baby supplies. The next few hours of working and waiting for delivery to be over can seem like forever, too. We do warp time, don’t we!
But immediately after that all waiting is over, right? Wrong.
It’s time for a different time warp.
Parents work for years, caring for a child and instilling in him the training, discipline and encouragement he needs to mature enough to survive on his own.
Sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back. After all, they DO say we spend two years teaching a child to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives teaching them to sit down and hush. Heh heh.
It’s that way for every parent. Do not think for one minute that if you ditch your child, you will relieve yourself of the waiting, of the work of learning patience. You don’t really know patience unless you’ve waited for a prodigal.
Yes, child-rearing takes patience. In the same way, our Father is patiently training, disciplining, encouraging, and maturing us—through our afflictions—to be more like Jesus.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4
As we anticipate the rewards of patience, we can endure whatever happens in our lives. We can cope when we remember that heaven is forever and earth is passing. When the ground is shaking all around us and we are tempted to despair, we know God loves us and is with us. We can be patient because we know Jesus will come again and all bad things in life will finally be set right.
We do not merit any blessing from God, regardless of our personal right-doings. All blessings come from God’s mercy, and without God’s mercy and compassion toward us, we would be at Satan’s pleasure all the time and life on earth would be like Hell.
As it clearly is, for some people.
Same for our children. We love them and show them compassion, supplying their every need, for no reason other than our loving mercy. When we do not, their lives are like hell.
Never forget that.
If we want the blessing of whole adult offspring, we must humble ourselves and patiently endure the working and waiting.
Most people today are characterized by impatience and love of ease. They are motivated by immediate and shallow rewards. They seem unwilling to work and wait. They are lured by lottery, credit card debt, and get-rich-quick schemes. They look to preachers who will feed this attitude, teaching Godliness as a means of gain. They have itching ears.
Quitting seems easier.
We should work and wait for the autumn rains. Really.
Especially do not quit on your family.