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
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:11-12 ESV
Kit had come to live with her aunt and uncle and cousins in the Massachusetts colony. She had always been very rich and had never been expected to do any work, but now she was expected to help with the housework. On her first evening in her new home, she was given the task of making corn pudding. She had to stand in front of the boiling kettle and add the corn meal a pinch at a time to the water. The smoke from the fire was making her eyes water, and the heat from the kettle had blistered her thumb. Kit thought that her cousin had played a trick on her by making up this task, and she felt resentful of this. Finally she poured the whole cupful of cornmeal into the kettle. But that made the pudding into a lumpy mess, and it was the only thing the family had to eat for supper. Kit had ruined the meal with her impatience and resentment.
In his letter, James reminds us how important it is to be patient. He uses the picture of a farmer waiting for the rain to come and water his fields, and for his crops to grow and to be ready to harvest. We aren’t simply waiting for rain or crops or for supper to cook. We are waiting for Jesus to return and make everything new for us. Waiting can be difficult, because while we wait we have problems and hard times. We sometimes get resentful of other people and complain and grumble about them. James tells us to wait for God’s good time and purpose, and to look to the prophets and to Job as examples of people who learned to wait for God to work. We want things to be better right away, but for now we trust that the Lord will bring about everything good in his own time.
James also reminds us that the Lord is compassionate and merciful, and that’s the reason that Jesus is waiting to come back. He wants to give people time to turn away from their sins and to come to know him as their Savior. Jesus died on the cross for all people, and when he did that he won the forgiveness of sins for everyone. God shows his wonderful patience by giving people time to turn away from their sins and to be brought to him for forgiveness. It is the Lord’s patience that helps us to be patient, also.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful patience with us. Please help us to be patient and to wait for you to work out your purposes in the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Speare, Elizabeth George The Witch of Blackbird Pond Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958.