Summary: The three points of this sermon and a good bit of the content is borrowed from a sermon by Ray Pritchard (see the resources at the end of the sermon). The key to facing hard times is learning to wait on the Lord.
A. Once there was a boy who asked a girl to go to the school formal dance.
1. She agreed, and he decided to rent a tuxedo, but the rental store had a long line, so he waited and waited, and finally he got his suit.
2. Then he decided to buy flowers, but the flower shop had a long line, so he waited and waited, until he finally bought flowers.
3. The boy and girl went to the dance, but there was a long line into the dance, so they waited and waited.
4. Finally, they got inside the dance hall and boy offered to get the girl something to drink.
a. She asked for punch, so he went to the drink table, and thankfully there was no punch line.
b. No punch line at the table and no punch line to this joke!
B. Do you realize how much time we spend of our lives waiting?
1. It has been suggested that we spend up to one third of our waking hours waiting.
a. It may be waiting in line, or waiting in traffic, or waiting at the doctor’s office, or waiting for a phone call, or waiting for test results.
b. There are other kinds of waiting as well; like: waiting to graduate, or waiting to get a job, or waiting for the right man or woman to come into your life, or waiting to start a family, or waiting to buy a house, or waiting to retire.
c. Then there’s a spiritual kind of waiting; like: waiting for your loved ones to come to Christ, or waiting for a prodigal to come home, or waiting for God to answer a prayer, or waiting for Christ’s return.
2. Most of us would rather do anything other than wait, am I right about that?
a. Some of us would rather do the wrong thing than wait.
3. But in many ways, one of the secrets to life is learning how to wait in the right way.
4. We might think waiting is nothing more than passive resignation, giving into our circumstances, throwing up our hands in despair and walking off the playing field.
5. But truth is: we don’t “wait” for the Lord because we think “waiting” means giving up.
a. From a biblical perspective, waiting isn’t passive; it’s the most proactive thing we can do.
b. To “wait” on the Lord means to get out of the way so He can act.
6. When Jesus stood before His accusers, He did not retaliate, but He waited on His Father to accomplish His purposes and waited for His Father to dole out justice and mercy.
C. With this introduction in mind, we turn to our text where James shows us three ways to wait, especially when hard times hit.
1. Let’s keep in mind that he is writing to believers in the first century who were poor, struggling, and suffering, who were scattered across the Roman Empire.
2. These Christians had been abused, lied to, misused, and exploited, especially by people in powerful positions, and wealthy landowners who ripped them off, stole their money, and walked away laughing.
3. They were at the mercy of rich and powerful people who got away with murder both figuratively and literally.
4. And there was nothing they could do about it.
D. What does the Word of God say to those who are cheated?
1. How do we respond in a godly fashion when we are mistreated?
2. How do we keep our faith alive when hard times seem to have no end?
3. Basically, James says we must learn to wait on the Lord.
a. The operative word is “learn.”
b. Waiting doesn’t come naturally or easily for most of us.
4. No one wants to wait when your loved ones are suffering, or when you are being cheated.
a. Yet often that is what we must do.
5. Sooner or later we have to come to grips with the fact that life in this world isn’t fair.
a. When that unfairness happens to us, we want to shout, “I didn’t sign up for this.”
b. Truth is: when we became followers of Christ, we did “sign up for this.”
6. Let’s walk through today’s section of James and see the three ways we are to wait, especially when hard times hit.
I. The first way we should wait is to WAIT EXPECTANTLY.
A. James wrote: Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:7-8)
1. James encourages us to consider the farmer.