Do you find it hard to be patient? If you ever need inspiration in that area, consider the four examples offered in Jas 5:7-11.
First, there is the patience of planting.
“The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains” (v 7).
A farming society needs to learn patience. It knows there’s a stretch of time between planting the seeds and harvesting the produce that no act of will can shorten. You have to be patient. Everything comes in its time—the early rains, the latter rains, and then the harvest. You can’t rush the process.
Second, there is the patience of prophecy.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (v 7a); “for the coming of the Lord is near” (8b); behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (v 9).
How does prophecy help form the virtue of patience in you? The Lord’s people have always had to wait for God to fulfill His prophetic promises. Sometimes it took a generation. Sometimes it took hundreds of years. Sometimes thousands! Likewise, James’ readers knew the Lord was coming, but they needed to be patient. In the face of abuse and injustice (e.g., v 6), instead of taking matters into their own hands and acting out of anger (1:20), they needed to wait on the Lord. When He comes, He will judge. So be patient for Him.
Third, there is the patience of the prophets.
As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord (v 10).
In v 17, James cited the example of the prophet Elijah. You will remember that Elijah felt so defeated that he wanted to die (1 Kgs 19:4), and so alone he thought he was the last believer in Israel (1 Kgs 19:10). The prophets routinely suffered persecution and death (Matt 23:37), not to mention doubt, fear, and depression. But the prophets persevered through those internal and external trials, and God highly exalted them. Be inspired by their example.
Fourth, there is the patience of the patriarchs.
You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful (v 11).
Job was a rich man, with a big family, who lost everything after Satan attacked him. The devil wanted to test Job’s faith. Was he faithful only because he was blessed? Job endured through these trials and never cursed God, even though he was tempted to by his wife, his friends, and his circumstances. As a result, he came through his trials even more blessed than before.
When you are challenged to be patient in the face of trials, remember this: you are not the first person to go through this.
All of God’s people have had to learn patience in one way or another.
They endured. So can you.
And if you do, there’s a harvest of spiritual maturity waiting for you.