Jesus is coming again. That is a promise. Now we are told to patiently wait for his return. Learning patience when you look forward to something requires a mindset that helps us learn how to live life while we wait.
A. There are few joys as great as traveling more than 3 hours with young kids. They know how to bring out the best in each other and in you. They are inquisitive and ask all sorts of questions, but the most classic is, “Are we there yet?” In your wisdom you explain time and distance to a 3 year old like they will understand only to be asked again about five minutes later, “Are we there yet?”
B. The one thing many parents say they want more is patience. Here’s the problem, there is only one to get patience – get more trials in your life. James actually starts out his letter with those words. (James 1:2-3). While they are two different words they come from the same family meaning of patience, being steadfast when it is not easy. James concludes his letter with the topic of patience. And want us to understand how long we are going to have to be patient – until the coming of our Lord. That means, as long as I live or until Jesus returns, whichever comes first.
C. I find myself asking God, “How long?” and I hear the voice of that child asking, “Are we there yet?” I know the answer God gives me – keep hanging on.
I. Learning Patience
A. Listen again to verses 7-8 of our text.
B. Is written as a command, “be patient.” The word itself comes from a Greek word that means “to suffering long.” The point is that prosperity is a terrible teacher. If you want to grow in patience, it only happens when life is not going well. It “on-the-job” training and few people desire to learn patience.
C. We want our kids to have everything we think is helpful to them. But if you give a kid all that they want you end up with a brat that can’t hold down a job because they never had learn the hard way that life is not fair. They didn’t learn that you work through the hard times to become more than what you are.
D. For millennia pearls have had value to humans. But there is only one way oysters can make a pearl. Freshwater pearls can take 1 to 6 years to form; whereas saltwater pearls may take 5 to 20 years. What happens is a piece of sand, grit, or even a food practical gets inside an oyster and it can’t get it out. So it begins a process of covering over it. It is the irritation that the sand causes that forces the oyster to being making what we call pearls.
II. Don’t Grumble
A. We you pray for God to help you develop patience, expect problems. It is how it works. But the very idea of patience requires of us to wait for something else to happen. I have never been good at waiting. I dislike it when I am flying and the pilot announces he has to circle the airport for some reason. I can see out the window where I want to be, but I am helpless to get there until the pilot lands the plane.
B. Listen to James 5:9
C. James tackles how we deal with life. I am waiting, now waiting and patience are not the same. Patience requires me to wait, but I may not wait patiently. You see, sometimes I get a little frustrated in my waiting. Like with the pilot that won’t land the plane. So I sit in my seat, looking out the window grumbling, huffing physically. I have no choice but to wait, but I am not waiting patiently, instead, I grumbling.
D. The fact that I grumble is a statement that I believe I know better how to handle the situation than the one that is causing me to have to wait. But the truth of the matter is the air traffic controller sees a bigger picture. He knows every plane that wants to land, he know everything about the weather, currents and conditions. He makes the call that tells the pilot to circle the airport for a reason, but in my arrogance, I want to land the plane. I think I know better.
E. In life, I sometimes forced to wait. I have to wait for test result from the doctor, I have to wait for a feedback from my employer, I have to wait for my spouse to get ready before we leave and in my waiting I grumble. James makes it clear that my grumbling is proof I am not patient.
F. Grumbling isn’t cute, it is ugly. People do not want to be around those who grumble because there is nothing productive about grumbling.
III. Living Life Patiently
A. So, I am commanded to be patient. I am told that complaining gets me nowhere, so how do I live life patiently? Listen to James 5:10-11.
B. If you want to see a poster about living patience in times of trouble, look to the prophets and Job. Jeremiah was thrown in a cistern to shut him up, Daniel was put into a den of lions, Hosea was told to marry an adulterous woman and Elijah was chased by Jezebel who wanted him dead.
C. So many of them suffered at the hands of their own people. They did not want to hear the call of repentance. Who can even think of all the emotional, spiritual and physical suffering of Job. Job would say, “I know that my redeemer lives.” Knowledge triumphs over emotion. The pint is not that these people suffered; the point is that God is good whether or not you feel good, and they didn’t quit. They knew that slow and steady wins the race.
A. Let me just say, there is a difference between a microwave and a crockpot. A crockpot is intended for slow cooking, a microwave will heat it quickly. We live in microwave world but God tells us we need to be like crockpots, keeping on keeping on, slow and steady, waiting patiently for the coming of our Lord, not grumbling, but with the understanding that our reward is far greater than the struggles of this life.
B. This is not a passage about suffering, trials and bad times. It is a plea to not quit because your God loves you. It may not be in the way you desire or understand, but he will never let you go. Do not be afraid for God is near. Keep the faith, run the race, and look forward to the crown of righteousness which the Lord will give to all who long for his appearing.