Steadfast with Patience
“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. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:7-11)
Tomorrow citizens of the United States have the privilege of voting for candidates who will govern their states and the nation in Congress and the House of Representatives. The contests have gotten increasingly aggressive and loud over the last two weeks as the finish line looms. The winners will be exhausted, exhilarated, and enthusiastic about their work. The losers will also be exhausted, but will probably wonder if they have accomplished anything over the last eighteen months while campaigning. I believe that those who have raised important issues and addressed needs in their communities will have won even if they do not gain their political seat. Perhaps, if they run again in the future, they will win and have an opportunity to work on those needs personally, having sown seeds of concern. But that will take patience, as it will for their supporters.
As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope for worldly peace and resolution of community issues does not rest in our politicians, but in our sovereign Lord. We know that as long as there are people on this present earth, sin will result in conflicts, contests, and failures. As I was studying and writing about Proverbs 4:26 (“all your ways will be sure”), I started thinking about what would make us sure or firm, which led me to a word study of “steadfastness.” In James 5, the apostle mentions patience four times: the farmer who patiently waits for the harvest; the prophets who waited for the Messiah as they suffered; and twice to his poor brothers who are suffering at the hands of the rich (James 4:1-5:6). Today there will be political candidates who have suffered personal insults and indignities for the sake of their campaigns, but that is nothing compared to the poor who suffer from hunger, lack of medical care and clothing, who must also endure the oppression of the powerful. But in his perfect time, they will be vindicated (James 5:9).
What are the poor Christians of this world, and James’s world to do? What are we to do now when our dreams are dashed, and our lives crumble from personal tragedy or illness? We are to trust in the Lord’s provisions (as a farmer depends on the rain) leads to patience and steadfastness. As we grow in our Christ-likeness, our hearts are “established” and resolute on God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Like Job, we say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
What will it take for you to be patient, with your heart fixed on Christ in all of your circumstances? Let’s pray for our political candidates today—that their victories and defeats will bring them closer to God, by the power of the gospel—so that whatever they do next, it is with hearts fixed on him.