Trust and Wait
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. James 5:7
A disruptive student, a whiny toddler, a demanding client. That’s a short list of people who drain my patience. And then there’s the number of situations that sweep me into impatience: justice denied, income delayed, projects uncompleted.
Are you nodding your head, or does your list look a lot different than mine? Either way, you and I, along with most other human beings, struggle to exercise patience. And we can’t dismiss it as a by-product of our instant-gratification culture. No, it was a problem for first-century Christians too.
In verses 7–10, James used forms of the word patience four times; he also used related words—perseverance and waits. The Greek word translated patience means “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart.” It refers to perseverance and bravery in enduring misfortunes as well as patience in bearing the offenses and injuries other people inflict on us.
James gave three examples of patient people to illustrate his teaching. A farmer planted seeds in hope, then waited for God to bring forth a harvest (v. 7). The prophets delivered God’s Word, then remained confident he’d act on behalf of his people (v. 10). Job refused to yield to despair when he suffered; instead, he believed God would ultimately vindicate and restore him (v. 11).
How can we cultivate patience? We focus on what we know to be true. “The Lord’s coming is near” and “the Judge is standing at the door” (vv. 8–9). These truths assure us that all wrongs will be corrected, all injustices rectified when Jesus returns. Second, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (v. 11). This truth is especially meaningful when we encounter inexplicable suffering as Job did. It reminds us that God sees our pain and will intervene at the best moment in the best way.
Patience isn’t only a matter of controlling our temper but also our worry and frustration. Biblical patience involves confidence in the Lord’s character, provision, and timing. We can wait expectantly for him to act because we trust his love and wisdom.
What’s fueling your impatience today? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust and wait.
Read Lamentations 3:19–33. What kept Jeremiah’s hope alive after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and took the people of Judah to Babylon?
What’s the relationship between James 5:11 and 5:12? Consider what’s said about Job in Job 1:20–22 and what Jesus said in Matthew 5:33–37. How can impatience prompt us to speak things we later regret?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of series on the book of James.