No one wants to hear a message on patience. The very thought of learning patience puts dread in our hearts and runs shivers down our spines! Well, apparently it was something Bible writers did not want to talk about either! Other than telling us to have patience, there is little instruction on the topic. Mostly in the New Testament writers were encouraging their listeners to be patient in the suffering they were enduring as they waited for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. That is the discussion we come upon in James 5.
James paints us 3 pictures of patience in a farmer waiting for rain to make his crops grow, the prophets of God and Job. Definitely, this patience goes beyond waiting in traffic or anticipating the weekend. The patience illustrated for us by James is truly what the King James would call long-suffering.
The farmer had done what was in his power to do by planting, and now the future of his field was out of his hands. Typically as we are in situations that require our patience, we are waiting on something beyond our control. The prophets of God were telling his people again and again that Messiah would come, yet died before seeing it fulfilled. Job, we know lost everything and suffered as his health failed, his friends accused him, and his wife told him to give up.
That farmer could not bring rain, but only trust that it would come. Those prophets could not bring Messiah, but only believe that God would not disappoint. Job could not restore his fortunes or his health, but only continue to stand firm on the faith that God was just.
We suffer sometimes; more than just waiting for that next paycheck or hoping our kids will obey. In those times it is imperative that we stand firm like the farmer trusting God to do what only he can do; like the prophets believing that God will do what he promised; and like Job knowing that God is God and does not change with our fortunes.
2 Peter 3:9 & 15 "The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
"Bear in mind that our LORD's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him."
If it seems that answers to prayer are coming slowly, we need to trust that God has a purpose in his timing. His desire is salvation and restoration and redemption. Only he can know all of the pieces that must fit together to bring about his purpose in our lives and the lives of those around us. Trust is the key to patience, and that trust grows as we abide in Christ's love, find our joy in his presence, and allow his peace to pervade our lives.