Friday, September 4, 2015

James 5:7-11

As James heads towards the end of his epistle, he returns the reader to something with which he had begun the letter – patience. In James 1, James admonished the reader to “count it all joy” when he comes into trials and hard times. He had further said that while trusting in the goodness and wisdom of God, we should allow faith-fueled patience to grow in us. Now, using three illustrations, James teaches how to be patient as God works in us.
First, he says be patient like a farmer. A farmer doesn’t plant seeds in the ground and then go back out the next day and stare at the dirt anxiously looking for signs of growth. He doesn’t fret for the first week when no rain comes on the seeds he planted. Rather, he knows that in due time rain will come, and the sun will shine, and his crops will grow. The formula for plant growth does not include any measure of anxiety on the farmer’s part. Rather, with “long patience” the farmer rejoices at the bountiful harvest that arrives.
Second, James reminds the reader to be patient like the Old Testament prophets. There was no group of people more ignored, despised, rejected, and abused than were the prophets. For example, before telling Jeremiah to proclaim the message of God, God told him that no one would listen to a word he would say. Others were beaten and killed as they proclaimed the very message of God, yet through patient endurance they never failed to deliver the message God had given to them.
Third, we are reminded of Job. In Job’s life, through the supremacy of God, Satan’s ill intentions were used to accomplish an incredible work of sanctification and perfection. Through God’s mercy, Job found restoration and kindness in spite of the darkest troubles of his life. Patiently, Job endured the trials by resting constantly in the character of the omnipotent, omni-benevolent, omni-sapient God.
Seeing these examples of patient endurance, why should we fill our lives with fretting from one point to the next? Why should we doubt the goodness and wisdom of God in whatever circumstance His Providence has brought us to? How can we expect the love of God to take on a form altogether foreign to those he loved so dearly in the Old Testament? We mustn’t turn the trials of life into pity parties or faithless outbursts of frustration. Rather, like the saints of old, we can trust God.
When trials come, no longer fear;
for in the pain our God draws near
to fire a faith worth more than gold,
and there His faithfulness is told.
- Keith and Kristyn Getty

Reflect: What are some things that have you unnerved or filled with anxiety right now? What characteristics of God can help you to be patient through tough times?