“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
James advises patience here until the coming of the Lord Jesus. Now, many people think about patience as a mostly idle waiting for something to happen. We want something to do while we wait. We don’t really practice patience today anymore. Instead, we practice being distracted by entertainment so we don’t have to think about the fact that we can’t have something else we want immediately.
When we sit in traffic, we check our phones. When we stand in line, we check our phones. When we are bored in a movie, we check our phones (even in spite of the pre-show requests to not do so). When we wait at the doctor, we check our phones. Are you getting the picture? Really, a better name for a cell phone would be a “digital distraction device.” It would be a lot more honest, but it probably wouldn’t market quite as well.
And, for many of us, this is how we wait on the coming of the Lord. We don’t like the waiting, so we look for things to distract ourselves from it in the meantime. If we’re honest, most of these things aren’t terribly helpful in terms of shaping us into the kind of people who will be ready to receive the Lord with gladness.
Almost as if he had this in mind, James uses a farmer as his illustration for what our patience should look like. Consider for a minute the patience of a farmer. How idle or distracted is it? Not at all! While the farmer waits for the crops to grow, there is much work to do. He never rests, but always makes ready for when the harvest arrives so that he doesn’t miss a single bushel. His whole livelihood depends on his staying ready for when the moment arrives. And when it does, he gets right to work, rejoices in the fruits of his labor, and then enjoys a well-deserved rest.
This is how we should be waiting on the Lord. He may not be here yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still lots to do. We are, most of us, nowhere near the kind of shape we need to be in to be glad at His coming. We need to pursue the spiritual disciplines with vigor. We need to grow our faith. We need to deepen our trust in Him when it comes to the resources He has provided for us. We need to share the news with others so that they can begin making preparations as well. Again: There is much to do. Let us then make the commitment to get to the weighty work of waiting patiently for the return of the Lord. We don’t have a minute to spare!