Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again. A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop to grow from the earth and for it to receive the autumn and spring rains. You too, must be patient. Do not give up hope, because the Lord is coming soon. Brothers and sisters, do not complain against each other or you will be judged guilty. And the Judge is ready to come! Brothers and sisters, follow the example of the prophets who spoke for the Lord. They suffered many hard things, but they were patient. We say they are happy because they did not give up. You have heard about Job’s patience, and you know the Lord’s purpose for him in the end. You know the Lord is full of mercy and is kind. James 5:7-10
Patience – the dreaded word, and an even more dreaded concept. We all want more of it, but we joke about not praying for it, perhaps because we’re a bit hesitant of what we’ll have to endure to grow in patience.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit: But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Patience is developed through the Spirit. Patience isn’t just a quality or skill we have. It’s a process of growth.
In what areas have you struggled with patience?
The word patient is scattered throughout the first few verses James 5:7-10, and it means what you’d likely guess: forbearing, long-suffering, to wait patiently, to endure. In the last verse, you see the phrase “did not give up.” In the NASB, this is expressed as “endurance.” In the NIV, “persevere” is used. There’s a tight connection between patience and perseverance. In fact, the two words used in these passages, makrothumia for patience and hupomeno for perseverance, are synonyms. The Greek word for patience is typically used in the context of people, and the word for perseverance is used in the context of circumstances.
We need to be patient with people, but we must persevere through circumstances. We often entwine the two so tightly that the confusion we create becomes a frustration in and of itself. We can’t separate a person from a circumstance. We can’t separate a circumstance from a person – or at least we think we can’t. But when I respond to my husband out of frustration because he stops listening to me in the middle of a conversation, it’s not really patience with him that I’m struggling with; it’s the circumstance of not being heard. When I misapply the source of my frustration, my response most definitely doesn’t reflect God. When I keep it in context and realize it’s the circumstance I’m most frustrated with, I’m (more) able to step back and approach the situation with perseverance.
The more we authentically look at our emotional responses and take responsibility for them, the less we’ll blame others or rationalize how others impact us. We’ll see our responses in the context of specific – and patterns of – circumstances, and as God reveals the truth to us, we can persevere through the circumstances.
What does the world tell you about perseverance?
Hupomeno comes from two words, hupo (under) and meno (to remain). The world might tell us to persevere in our own power, but God tells us otherwise. In order to persevere, or have patience through circumstances, we must remain under him. This doesn’t mean we sit inactively. Life with God isn’t inactive. God’s perseverance means we endure in following him. We’re steadfast in our obedience. Perseverance isn’t about taking control; it’s about yielding control. What a readjustment for many of us raised in a world focused on independence and individualism!
We need to realign our definitions and applications of godly concepts. We make assumptions of the words and phrases we encounter in the Bible because of the definitions we’ve learned and assumed based on everyday experiences. Dig in deep, my friend. God wants you to question and explore! He’s not intimidated by your questions. He’s strong enough to handle them, and he welcomes the discourse. Of course, he requires respect, but we can respectfully question someone. In fact, it’s the people we most respect that we need to question, because they’re most likely to be authentic with us, challenging our assumptions and guiding us toward growth and truth.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV)
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV)
Patience is required through every season and moment of life. Some requirements of patience are much more trying than others. God will teach you through each moment. God will be faithful through each situation. Have hope. You can trust God’s promises.
Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again. A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop to grow from the earth and for it to receive the autumn and spring rains. You, too, must be patient. Do not give up hope, because the Lord is coming soon. (James 5:7-8)