Being Patient in Suffering
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. (Jas 5:7)
When working in the Lord’s field,
we inevitably encounter challenging situations. If the difficulty seems too
great to bear, we begin to lose patience.
Through James, the Lord teaches us
to deal with the situation by learning from the farmer. In earlier times, there
were no satellite weather forecasts, automated sprinkling systems, targeted
pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or temperature controls to help a crop grow.
After the farmer tilled the land and planted the seed, he could only wait upon
the Lord. The farmer’s very limited control of the situation forced him to
become patient and place his trust in God.
How can we be patient as the
farmer during times of suffering?
1. Stay focused on the Lord. James
encourages us to “establish [o]ur hearts” or “stand
firm” and know that the coming of the Lord is at hand (Jas 5: 8). When we keep
in perspective that we are only a part of God’s plan during our brief time on
earth, then we will know that “neither he who plants is anything, nor he who
waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Cor 3:7).
2. Hold our tongue. In times of
high stress, our natural instinct is to complain. However, James warns us, “Do
not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the
Judge is standing at the door!” (Jas 5:9). We need to watch our language: “But
above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any
other oath” (Jas 5:12).
3. Learn from examples of patience
in suffering. James brings up Job and the prophets, saying, “My brethren, take
the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and
patience” (Jas 5:10). For us, these examples may be ministers or co-workers who
had silently suffered for doing their job. Let us learn from these examples by
focusing on the Lord, quietly working with our hands, and keeping God’s kingdom
Question for Reflection:
How do you handle difficulties
when working for the Lord?