The Apostle James has a direct way of presenting things. He wastes little time with nuance and gets right to his point. In James chapter 5, verses 7-9, he makes the point quite clear, we are to be patient. We tend to think of patience as sitting back and doing nothing. But from my understanding of this passage, patience is quite a bit more than just “doing nothing.” Using a farmer as an example for us, I see three things in this passage that James is trying to show us about patience.
Plant – Before the farmer harvests a crop, he must first he plants a specific crop. He doesn’t just sit beside his empty field and say “LORD, I’m being patient. Now do something!” Rather, he planted a crop and then confidently expects it to produce for him.
Too many Christians sit back and do nothing. I don’t mean doing “things” or areas of serving as much as mean submitting ourselves to God. Too often we’re so busy that Bible study, personal prayer and even church attendance is cast aside because we are busy. The idea of living a life submitted to Him (and not a bunch of stuff we do) is foreign to many of us. Then we wonder why God seems distant or our prayers go unanswered. Before the farmer waits, he plants.
Expect – Further, all farmers I know expect a product that is a result of what they planted. Meaning if they planted corn, they do not expect to see anything other than corn to grown in that field. They very well may enjoy strawberries or watermelons, but they would not be happy about seeing those in a field planted with corn. They harvest a product from what they planted.
The question I must always ask myself is what am I planting? James tells us in verse 8 that we are “not to grumble against one another.” If my idea of patience means I look at, point to and then complain about others, then I am not planting a good crop. Like the farmer, I can expect that type of crop to re-produce itself. We really do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8).
Wait – Finally, there is this process of waiting for God’s timing. While they have a rough idea of when the “early and latter rains” may occur, farmers ultimately must stand back and let God control their harvest. They must trust Him to bring the rains in His time and not on their schedule.
So too we must wait on God’s timing. His time usually isn’t my time. Sometimes I even find His time inconvenient to my personal schedule but His timing ultimately works out best. Of course this becomes a control issue. God is in complete control and like the farmer; waiting on His timing puts me the position of submission to Him.
I wonder if patience is really is a control issue. Most often for me, when I am impatient it is because things aren’t progressing at my desired speed or with the outcome I desire. It is so easy to become impatient when I struggle with control. But like the farmer, planting, expecting and finally waiting on Him, helps me release my control allows me to fall under His care.
Be patient! And be blessed my friend!