Read: James 5: 7-11
Apply: We were standing outside on the platform in the sweltering heat. As we glanced down the tracks, there was no train bound for Philadelphia. 30, 45, 60 minutes – well past the scheduled arrival time. You could not only see frustration on the faces of the ticket holders, but you could hear the verbal complaints ratcheting up the longer the hold up. We had no choice but to all be waiting.
That is a difference between waiting (which everyone does at one point or another) and patiently waiting. Believers have a choice in how they wait. James uses the illustration of a farmer waiting for the rains that will make his crops grow. The farmer doesn’t have the power to bring the rains. Instead, he chooses to patiently go about his daily chores, depending on God to bring the rain that will make the crops grow. Patience is the choice when we take our circumstances and decide to believe that God is Sovereign over the circumstances, no matter how painful the circumstances. It’s a choice to stay steady and strong even in the face of extreme adversity because we know the end game: Jesus is coming.
I have a dear friend, Mary (name changed), a fellow believer, who has been waiting on God’s platform for about five years. With the diagnosis of cancer, Mary was given a prognosis of 1 year = tops. Then came surgery, chemo, radiation. The cancer is aggressive and life expectancy was still less than a year. Two years later, Mary was at the doctor and he blurted out, “I’m not quite sure why you are still alive.” The cancer is still there, but five years later, Mary is also still here.
During this waiting time, the cancer has ravaged her body. Mary would have good reason to shake her fists at God and rachet up her complaints. However, she has instead decided to spend her time patiently planting seeds. She has loved on the medical professionals who have attended to her, she has shared her hope in Jesus Christ with those who are hurting, and she is one of the most gentle and vibrant people I know. In Galatians 5 we read that two of the fruits of the Spirit are “peace and patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting]”.(Amplified Version) Mary makes a daily choice of whether or not to keep firmly holding on to the truth that the “Lord is full of compassion and is merciful”. She has endured. Mary’s train has not come yet, but she can see it in the distance.
Apply: Which group of ticket holders would you identify with: those who were angry that their plans had been diverted, delayed or cancelled? Or those who are waiting patiently in the expectancy that Christ is coming and all will be made right? As a believer you have the power to wait, by the grace of God, with patience so that not one minute is wasted that God gives you on this earth, no matter the adversity you are facing. Do you want to love God more than the timing of the answers He gives to your prayers? Are you willing to offer Him a patient heart for as long as He has you wait on His arrival? “The coming of the Lord is near.”