We’ve just crossed the official threshold of spring. Time to think of warmer days and an early harvest of juicy fruit. Soon the markets will abound with zesty lemons and sweet strawberries, peaches and nectarines, grapes and bananas and oranges. In the spiritual realm, we can keep an eye out for a fresh harvest, too: of love, joy, peace, and now patience.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Patience rests. I’ve never met anyone who is passionate about waiting. That in-between stage of ambiguity and questions tends to make us uncomfortable. We need action, right? Patience requires a great deal of security in knowing God is capable of movement even when we don’t see everything going on behind the scenes. Seasons of waiting are often a gift to us, a chance to remember who’s really in charge.
With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
Patience is powerful. I’m no Bible scholar, but I don’t think this passage is advocating violence. It’s just saying there’s a strength in not giving up easily. When we pair a long obedience in the same direction with discerning words and a happy heart, the world around us changes for the better, and the world within us expands.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Patience reaps a reward. Quitters don’t experience the same benefits as those who practice patience. The humility needed to keep putting your hand to the plow day after day after day tills your own heart just as you till the ground. Whether it’s a difficult coworker, a huge project, or any one of a million other situations that call for patience, endure. Here’s a kingdom principle: the harvest will come if you don’t give up.
“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
Patience can be inward just as much as outward. I can’t speak for you, but it’s so much more difficult for me to be patient with myself than it is to be patient with just about anyone else. I need to get myself together here! should be so much more mature! I know better than this! Come on, self, just work harder! I highly doubt a grapevine has to beat itself up to make grapes. Maybe a little grace with ourselves would look eerily similar to inward patience. And then, amazingly, the fruit will come.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Patience matters most in darkness. We’re not talking about a spiritual apathy here, some puny lack of awareness or care about reality. Patience in tribulation is eyes wide open, hands unclenched, and heart ready to see the Lord at work. There’s a way to wait well—not by complaining or groaning or arguing or manipulating, but by reminding our hearts second by second if necessary that God is good and in control. This internal posture fascinates the world and is one of the most subversive weapons in the heavenly arsenal.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Patience involves people. Real-life, messy, God-imaged people with backstories. With fears. With a chasm of need just as gaping as our own. Full disclosure here: I’m probably not the first girl who comes to mind when considering patience. But I do find it easier to be patient with others when I recall how extraordinarily long-suffering God has been with me. I make those Old Testament Israelites look adorable.
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [of all sinners], Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.
(1 Timothy 1:16)
Patience is a way God brings comfort. Just like those previously mentioned Israelites, when I show off how much Jesus has stuck with me through, it gives others hope. We sing our songs and display just how far heaven was willing to stretch to bring us in, and this brings others in. Every believer is a walking billboard of grace, storytellers of the divine patience available to desperate souls.
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.
Patience allows for growth. Doug Larson says that “the real secret of patience is to find something to do in the meantime.” James has an idea of what that something should be—he urges Christians to “establish your hearts.” One of the best ways to leverage the waiting moments is to cultivate character. The Word is packed with people who needed time to prepare before their big role: Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, even Jesus. God is offering a chance to get ready for what He has in store for you next.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9)
Patience should increase urgency. It’s easy to look around at this broken world and wonder why God hasn’t taken us home yet. Just let it all be over. One day, that will be the case, but it’s His patient heart for the lost that holds it off now. Every minute is both a gift and a challenge. Will we waste the Lord’s patience toward those who don’t know Him? Or will we get a holy jolt toward snatching as many from the mouth of hell as possible? I know the fire and brimstone topic isn’t popular, but God promises that His patience with the world won’t last forever.
“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.”
Patience is a community work. Confession time: I grow weary. I have a much harder time wrapping up than I do starting out. I just lose steam. I’ll probably eventually cross the finish line, but I will have coasted from somewhere between the halfway and the three-quarter point of the journey. I need brothers and sisters to cheer me on. We’re called to encourage one another, to build one another up, to persevere together. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone, and patience is a fruit that best grows in bunches.