God on Monday
‘Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.’ (James 5:7)
‘Are we nearly there yet?’ The cry that parents hear from the young child in the back of the car half an hour into a day-long journey. A question that signals one thing – impatience.
Fifteen months ago, I had a cycling accident that shattered my left elbow. Two operations and many treatments later, it is still painful. My patience has been severely tried. Maybe you are going through a similar experience, causing you to echo the psalmist, ‘How long, O Lord?’ (Ps 13:1).
Our patience is often tested in the workplace. A contract that takes frustratingly long to finalise. A boss who is irritable and unfairly demanding. A machine that keeps breaking down. A colleague who never stops talking. A hike in exchange rates which makes trading difficult.
James gives five reasons why, nonetheless, we should be patient.
First, an occupational image. ‘The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains’ (Jas 5:7). Farmers know their livelihood is dependent on the weather, over which they have no control. Many events are out of our hands; we simply have to watch, hope and pray.
Second, a stirring exhortation. ‘Strengthen your hearts’ (v.8). This suggests iron determination, like the message of a general rallying troops: ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ It’s a rousing call to show patience.
Third, a serious warning. ‘Do not grumble against one another’ (v.9). People who share a mood of impatience often fall out among themselves. We must not take our frustration out on each other: that is counterproductive.
Fourth, a biblical example. ‘You have heard of the endurance of Job’ (v.11). In some ways, Job’s reputation for patience is odd because he often questioned what God was up to. But he never lost his faith: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (Job 19:25). When times are hard, we hang in there with God, maybe with gritted teeth, grateful for our salvation.
Fifth, the advent hope. ‘Be patient…until the coming of the Lord’ (v.7). This ‘coming’ may happen either before or after we die. Either way, Jesus’ coming puts the things that make us impatient into perspective. Our long-term future is secure.
Think about each of James’s five reasons to be patient. How can you apply these to a situation causing you impatience?
Lord Jesus, help me to be patient with others, as you have been patient with me. Grant me grace that enables me to wait patiently for your return and to work steadfastly in the meantime. For your name’s sake. Amen.
This Week's Author
Richard Higginson, Chair, Faith in Business
God on Monday is produced in partnership with the Church of England. The reflections are based on the scriptural readings designated for the coming Sunday in the Church's lectionary. You can sign up to Faith in Business here to receive each God on Monday instalment. Feel free to share these reflections with your contacts via email and social media.