Summary: 5th in a 5 part series the book of James on making practical application to real problems.
THE POWER OF PATIENCE
As a young Dad pushed his son’s carriage down the street the youngster howled in rage with displeasure. "Please, Bernard, control yourself... Easy there, Bernard, Keep calm! Everything will be alright," the Father kept saying quietly. "Congratulations Sir," said a woman who had been watching. "You know just how to speak to a child... calmly, gently, and with great patience." Then she added, "Did you name little Bernard after a family member? I really like that name." "Ma’am, you don’t understand," the father said, "My son’s name is Jeffery, I’m Bernard."
I’m sure all of us at one time or another have had to talk to ourselves, about being patient. The Bible certainly has a lot to say about it. There are many references that talk about waiting and there are over 30 verses that speak specifically about being patient. We know that "Patience is a Virtue." Yet, because of our hurried up society many of us are like the lady who prayed, "Lord, I know I’m always in a hurry, so I need patience and I need it now."
Well, as we continue in our study, James emphasizes this virtue. We certainly understand that patience is needed in our daily tasks, our relationships, but here in this passage James zero’s in on an area that applies to us all. He says we must develop it in order for us to get through hard and trying times. Certainly one of the most challenging times to exercise patience is when life hands out unjust, unfair or undeserved treatment.
And I’m sure in this room there are probably people who have lost jobs, recently ended a relationship, who are suffering physically, or who are living under great financial stress. Well, God, through James wants to help us by teaching us how to react to suffering. So, let’s carefully study what James has to say because if you are not going through suffering right now, you will.. and we all can use Godly advice on how to best handle it.
I. THE EXPLANATION OF PATIENCE:
First, James explains patience by telling us to do a very difficult thing, in the face of trying times: wait. Vs:7a- “Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait..” Patience, in this context is simply the ability to stay steadfast under trial.
Now, we need to admit, as Americans, that we have a difficult time being patient under ordinary circumstances. Waiting has probably always been a difficult virtue to master, but it is particularly hard in today’s society. We live in a rapid pace culture. We have fax machines, microwaves, the internet, & hands free cell phones. Somebody said they saw a sign the other day in one of those Mall shops that read, "Ears pierced, while you wait." Like, there’s some other way? We are a fidgety, impetuous people. And it is very difficult for us to be patient anytime, so it is no wonder that it’s near impossible for us to demonstrate patience when suffering. Even our pain medicines promise us "Fast - fast - fast" relief and the various companies vie for who can relieve you the fastest. So when we are seriously ill, emotionally distressed or under financial pressure we want a remedy in a hurry. But James says, "Be patient, endure, persevere." There are going to be times when there will be little you can do except wait.
Now, it’s a little thing to have to wait for a meal when you’re hungry but it’s a whole different matter when James tells us to exercise patience even in times of severe stress and affliction. But James adds this encouragement at the end of vs:7. "...be patient as you wait..” for what?.. “for the Lord’s coming." That’s hard but James is giving us a timeless truth: good things come with some waiting. And the best thing ever will be the reward that Jesus brings to those who have a relationship with Him.
Let’s say you’re baking a chocolate cake and your 4 year old child is watching for the first time. You might begin by sifting some flour. "Uuoo," they say, "that’s dry and looks yucky." You say, "Just wait." Then you put in some baking soda and sour milk. The batter really looks uninviting now. "I’m not going to eat that!" your child says. "Be patient," you tell them. Then you put in a raw egg. "That’s gross," they yell. You smile and say once again, "Just you wait, you’ll see." Because you know how surprised they’re going to be when later, after all the ingredients are in and the mix is baked in the oven, they’ll taste a delicious chocolate cake. The spiritual lesson is obvious isn’t it? Often in life we encounter "dry stretches" which are tasteless as flour. We also meet with "sour" experiences like the milk and even some "raw dealings" like the egg; but after we have gone through the oven of affliction, many times something beautiful in our character, in our inner soul is the result. And James says, even if the result isn’t beautiful here, you wait for the ultimate “gorgeous ending” - the Lord’s return. You wait until you taste heaven! I’ve always said that we won’t be in heaven for 2 seconds before realizing that everything we’ve gone through was worth the wait.