December 15, 2013
James 5:7-11

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming” (James 5:7).

Is there anyone among us who never has felt as the exasperated believer who prayed, “Dear Lord, please grant me patience—and I mean right now!”
There are two words translated patience in the Book of James. One word, hypomona, means “getting under the load to carry it.” This one is found in James 1:3-4 and 5:11. The other, makrothumeo, means “to suffer long,” and in the noun form “forbearance.” That is the one found twice in our text for today. They both are well-translated by our English word patience.

While we wait for the promised return of the Lord, we need the grace of patience. In these verses, there are three examples to remind us of this needed grace.

Ponder the Patience of the Farmer (vv. 7-9)
In the Holy Land, there are two rainy seasons in an otherwise dry climate. The early rains come in October or November. Then the farmer can plow, plant and anticipate there will be moisture to start the growing. The latter rain comes in March or April in time for the crop to mature for harvest.
Like the farmer, we may not be able to predict exactly when the Lord will return, but we know He will. We can wait with patience if we learn the lesson of the farmer.

Ponder the Patience of the Prophets (v. 10)
Elijah overcame the wrath of King Ahab and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Jeremiah wept under the load of several kings of Judah including Jehoiakim, who took the scroll of the prophet and cut it apart, tossing the pieces into the firepot in his winter palace (Jer. 36:22-23). Daniel, in exile with the surviving remnant of Israel, endured being shut up in a den of ferocious lions (Dan. 6). Also, Hebrews 11 offers a long list of faithful Old Testament saints who patiently carried the load of persecution for God’s sake.

Their endurance encourages us to persist with patience. A gospel song reminds us, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus / Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ / One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase / so bravely run the race, ‘Till we see Christ.” (Esther Kerr Rusthol)

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said His followers should count it a blessing when people insult us, persecute us and say all kinds of evil against us because of Him. “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12; Cf. James. 1:12).

Ponder the Patience of Job (v. 11)
“You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about” (James 5:11). Job was not patient in the sense of bearing his hard lot without complaint, but he persisted in his confidence in a sovereign God who would vindicate him in the end. So it was.

This past May, more than a dozen tornadoes touched down in “Tornado Alley,” the path through the middle of Oklahoma. That path has more tornadoes per square mile than any other place on earth. Moore, Okla., near Oklahoma City, was hit this season by the widest tornado on record. A mile-wide path of destruction reduced hundreds of homes to scattered splinters. Two elementary schools were demolished with many children inside. Rhonda Crosswhite gathered her class of 24 sixth graders in one of the restrooms. They huddled together in the stalls and heard their teacher pray out loud, alternating between talking to them and to God. “Guys, it’s going to be OK…God, please don’t strike us.”

One of the students in her cluster kept saying, “I love you, Miss Crosswhite. I love you…I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.” She kept assuring him, “I’m not dying today, and you’re not going to die.” One of her students told NBC’s “Today Show” that Miss Crosswhite was the reason they were spared.

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