James 5:7-8 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
This last part of James’ letter has many memorable verses that I have meditated and spoken on many times, but I don’t think I’ve ever really done so about this bit. It actually seems very timely at this point from a number of factors. In the first place, I’m planting a garden myself, and I’m very excited to see lots of seeds coming up. In the second place, world events are making a lot of people long for the return of the Lord! Frankly, I would have to count myself among their number, even though at the same time there are a lot of temporal events that I am very interested to see how they turn out. I’ve been a space/science fiction buff for 60 years, and I have a lot of appreciation for Elon Musk at the moment! That said, humans going to Mars can’t compare with Christ returning to Earth, so that isn’t an obstacle to my anticipation. The political situation, along with the societal decay that has engendered it, is what has so many people longing for Christ’s return. As has been very wisely said, politics is downstream from culture, and American culture has been sexualized to an amazing degree, especially over the past 100 years. There have been decadent cultures dotted throughout human history, but the scale and the intensity are currently at the upper end of the scale, especially with the wholesale slaughter of innocents on the altar of sexual pleasure. We live in an Information Age indeed, and the tsunami of information about decadence of all sorts threatens to drown us all. That makes James’ words here extremely appropriate. I like the fact that the Japanese term used here is closer to “endurance” than simply “patience.” I think we do well to think of it as “patient endurance.” Even Jesus wanted to be done with the suffering He knew awaited Him, (Luke 12:49-50) but He patiently endured on the Father’s schedule. We need to keep our eyes on the prize (2 Corinthians 4:16-17; Philippians 3:14) and know that God already has it all worked out, whatever it looks like to us in the moment.
I go through times of being excited about all that I see happening around me, and times of wishing I could already hear the Last Trumpet! (Revelation 11:15) My garden is giving me plenty of anticipation, but at the same time I know there is plenty of work to be done before the harvest. I need to approach my coming encounter with the Lord the same way, whether that encounter is strictly personal or whether it is indeed the end of the age. The fact that it hasn’t come yet means that I’ve still got work to do. Some of that work may simply be enduring! I’m not to complain, but rejoice that the Lord does choose to use me in various ways, and give myself totally to Him.
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. Thank You for all You did yesterday. That large, 3-generation family showing up yesterday was quite a shock, but hardly a bad one. It was a reminder that things can change overnight! Thank You also for the ongoing lessons of the garden. Help me receive all the lessons You have for me, responding as You intend, so that indeed, Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!