Patiently Waiting for the Lord
7 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. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:7-8)
From our previous verses of James 5:1-6, we have seen that the believers were being mistreated by their landowner employers, where they were not being paid for their work. In the end of that section, James warns that the landowners needed to repent or God’s judgment would be upon them. In the meantime, for the believers, James encourages them to be patient and wait for the Lord, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming.” Patience requires an attitude to display long-suffering in light of persecution and affliction, not complaining, giving into anger or giving up. As Anders writes, “They should be ready to endure affliction without complaint and to remain committed in their obedience to God.” The hope that fuels such patience is the return of the Lord, when He will bring about His judgment upon the world, in which believers will be vindicated and wrongdoers will be punished.
James follows this up with an observation from the work of a farmer, “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.” A farmer can do all the preparation work, tilling the land, planting the seeds, and get rid of weeds, but the farmer must ultimately wait for the Lord to provide the rain, to which, the farmer waits patiently. The early rains, or autumn rains, appear around October, softening the ground for planting. The late rains, or spring rains, appear around April and help the crops finish growing for harvest time. Months of waiting was required on the farmer’s end, waiting for the Lord’s blessing of rain.
Going straight into verse 8, “You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.” As the farmer is patient and hopeful, awaiting the Lord’s blessing of rain, believers are to be as patient, awaiting the Lord’s return. In the meantime, we are told to “strengthen your hearts,” stand firm in your salvation against the trials that you will experience in this life, for the Lord’s coming is near. We don’t know the exact time when Christ will physically come back, but we should live as if it could be any moment. Having such a mentality should urge us to evangelize and do His will while we have the time. Being patient does not mean waiting around doing nothing. We have a purpose in the meantime we are here on earth. I’ll close with this story shared by Thomas Lea about J. Hudson Taylor, “J. Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in the 1860s. He believed fervently in the impending return of Christ. His belief influenced him to make the evangelism of unreached areas of China his primary aim. His beliefs about Christ’s return gave him direction and urgency in the establishment of the mission.” So, knowing that Christ will return, may we be strengthened and filled with hope to accomplish His will while we patiently wait.
Isaac De Guzman