Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Patience might as well be a dirty word in my opinion. In the words of Jay Z, “I got no patience, and I hate waitin’!” Yes, I’m willing to admit that I’m not the most patient person. And yet, patience is one of the fruits of the spirit; virtues suggested as characteristics for the people of God. Having heard so many times the cliché advice not to pray for patience, lest the Lord give you something to test your patience, I don’t pray for this virtue! That being said, I do attempt to cultivate it by noticing when I fail to be patient, and when, on the contrary I am presented with the opportunity to cultivate patience. Every once in a while I succeed.
Patience is essential for farmers. Beyond limited experience as a raised-bed gardener in various backyards in our past, my primary experience with farming comes from 6 moths spent as an interim pastor for a tiny church in a very small farming community in Eastern New Mexico. Their patience and connectedness to the land has lingered with me to this day. Patience is also essential for parents. Every day I’m reminded that this parenting gig is a marathon and not a sprint. Today’s seeming failure can, after all, turn into next year’s success. Parenting is about patience, compromise, and grace. My children are tender crops that I am charged to tend and care for. I can’t do all that is necessary for their growth and vitality, but there are many things I am charged with doing in order to care for them, and to help them as they grow into the caring competent, capable, and successful people I hope they will be. (And I don’t mean success as it is often defined by the world, but that is for another post . . . ) Farming and parenting are two reminders of the sort of patience that James calls for here. The Lord is coming. But the hour is unknown. The odds are very great indeed, that the sun will rise again tomorrow and that the hastening of the Lord will delay a while longer. In that event, I must live tomorrow. I must love tomorrow. I must parent tomorrow. I must do all of these in hopes that I’m making the next tomorrow a little better than this one. All the while, I will pray, “Come Lord Jesus, Come,” but I will live in a way that says I value His ways and teachings today, for the sake of others and for tomorrow.
How are you at patience? I won’t suggest praying for it, but I’m confident that you have areas and people in your life that require it. Meditate on this today. Name one situation or person that requires patience. How have you failed? How have you succeeded? What might God be trying to teach you in this situation? Afterwards, live your prayer out, as you strive to be patient with a person or situation that is trying – and yes, I’m definitely writing this to myself! 🙂