Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
December 8, 2017 | Written by George Gaskin
“Be patient.” After reading these verses, I realized I couldn’t quite define patience, so, like any good millennial would do, I Googled it: “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” To be patient is to rock along in life, doing your thing, unfazed by the bumpiness of it all.
I love the image of a farmer patiently waiting for the land to “yield its valuable crop.” There’s not much you can do to make a stalk of corn grow faster. You make sure the conditions are appropriate to facilitate growth, and then you wait patiently.
It’s easy to be impatient for the Lord’s coming. It doesn’t take much for me to throw up my hands, exclaim exasperatedly that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and say, “Hurry up, Lord…save us!...do something.” Impatience is easy because it exculpates me from my responsibility to make the world a better place.
But that’s not how James instructs us to be. Like a farmer who dutifully tills the soil,plants the seeds, and patiently waits for the rain, we are to love our neighbor, seek justice, and patiently be the body of Christ in this broken world.
Paradoxically, then, it seems the best way to hasten the saving of the world is to not, in fact, rush it. Rushing it is a symptom of wanting God to do all the work for us. But I think God works through us, not outside of us. The more patient we can be, waking up every day and doing those small things that we know are right and true, focusing on what we can do in this present moment to make the world a tiny bit better, the riper the conditions will be for the Lord’s coming.
Prayer: Lord, when we feel frustrated by slowness of your coming, grant us the patience to be unfazed, and to continue to rock along doing your work each day. Amen.