“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7, AV)
One day it seemed like I spent an eternity in a fast-food line. Under my breath, I began to grumble. “Come on now. This is supposed to be fast food. Why else would I stand in line in a restaurant with no real ambiance to get a burger and fries?” Well, I finally got my lunch and sat down. Well, the entire lunch experience was faster than going to a sit-down restaurant, so I had no room to complain. The point is that, unless I am the exception, we tend to be somewhat impatient people.
Now, as I have aged, I have come to realize that certain things take time, and we just have to learn to chill-out. Oh, it is not that somehow, I have fully conquered this beast of impatience, but I have gained a better ability to cope with delays in my old age. I have also learned that in pastoral ministry, some of the things that we want to change in the church just take time. I learned that the Lord’s timetable is not our timetable. This issue of waiting on the Lord’s timetable is what James wrote of here. He told the believers to be patient regarding the return of the Lord.
James used the work of the farmer to illustrate this work of patience. The farmer sows the seed, but must wait for the time of harvest. Between the time of sowing and reaping, there is a necessity for rain to water the crops. Without the rains there would be no harvest. You can imagine that the farmer holds his breath, so to speak, waiting on the rain. He has no control of when the rains will come. He just trusts that they will and that they will be just sufficient to water the crops to produce the harvest. In the same way, we do not know when the Lord shall return. However, we know He will and we now live by faith waiting for that day.
Consider the readers of James’ letter. They were undergoing various trials. For them, the coming of the Lord would have been something for which they longed. It would mean deliverance from their hardships. As I look at our society today with its moral decline and injustices at the highest levels, I think the same thing. “Lord come soon.” However, the Lord has His most perfect timeframe. So, we must wait, holding firm in the faith. We trust that His timeframe is perfect and that there is purpose in our waiting.
Consider the positives in waiting on the Lord’s return. One is that He will save even more people. Even though we see a society that is sliding morally and falling away from faith in Christ, some are still coming to faith. Remember Peter’s words, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, AV). The delay in the Lord’s return gives more people an opportunity to express true faith in Christ. Our unsaved friends and loved ones can still come to faith. Moreover, we still have time to tell people of the hope they can have by faith in Christ alone.
The Lord’s delay gives us the blessed opportunity to minister to others and do something of eternal impact. Be patient. Hold on to the faith. Serve the Lord. Praise him for His perfect timetable.