A 2006 survey of more than 1,000 adults discovered that most people take an average of 17 minutes to lose their patience while waiting in line. Also, most people lose their patience in only 9 minutes while on hold on the phone. Impatience is a common trait.
James wrote to a group of believers who were struggling with being patient for Jesus’ return (James 5:7). They were living under exploitation and distressing times, and James encouraged them to “set the timer of their temper” for the long run. Challenging these believers to persevere under suffering, he tried to stimulate them to stand firm and to live sacrificially until the Lord returned to right every wrong. He wrote: “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (v.8).
James called them to be like the farmer who waits patiently for the rain and the harvest (v.7) and like the prophets and the patriarch Job who demonstrated perseverance in difficulties (vv.10-11). The finish line was just ahead and James encouraged the believers not to give up.
When we are being tried in a crucible of distress, God desires to help us continue living by faith and trusting in His compassion and mercy (v.11).
What is most difficult about being patient during
stressful times? Ask God for the grace to help
you live by faith and to live for the long run.
The establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom is the hope of the believer. Since the moment of Christ’s ascension, His followers have eagerly anticipated His return. This awaited return is imminent, and today’s passage reminds us that we are to patiently wait for it (v.7). Like a farmer who waits for all the necessary rains to produce the best crop, Christians await the fulfillment of all that God has planned for the coming of His kingdom. While we wait, we are to “establish” our hearts (v.8) or “stand firm” (niv), allowing the peace of God to rule in us (Col. 3:15).