“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. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” James 5:7-11
We’re having a rare morning thunderstorm as I tap out these words, and it’s pretty magical. Everything in our yard will pop up again fast and jungly and green right after my husband mowed and pruned. I keep a teeny container herb garden and two quaint pots of tomatoes. Last year I got way overzealous, hand tilling and laying down newspaper under new soil and planting from seeds in a massive plot in our backyard only to realize it was clay soil. Under a huge shade tree. Near a forest where hungry wild animals come out at night to graze. A few weeks into the season and I had given up. Nothing survived but the weeds. I wasn’t patient or diligent enough.
Seeds of truth and hope aren’t the easiest-to-wait-for fruit, are they? Especially in seasons of hardship, when it looks like standing in a giant plot of dirt. It isn’t uncommon for me to flop onto our bed at the end of a day and wonder where it all went, was it all worth it, the redirecting and discipline and scripture memory and planting seeds into tiny hearts of my girls. I’ve been praying for people I crazy-love that they would surrender their hearts to Jesus for almost half my life, loving on them and watching for the Holy Spirit to even crack a door open in their hearts, heartbroken during patterns of their self destruction. Waiting. Wondering.
You’re waiting on something too, aren’t you? An answer. Job direction. Admission letter. A baby that hasn’t come. Spouse that your heart longs for. A home. Growth in your own soul. Years of labor that haven’t culminated into any fruit yet. Our wait that transcends circumstances is on the Lord Himself.
The temptation of waiting in hardship is to despair that the harvest just won’t come. That its all in vain. I’m on a fools’ errand. Is this a big fat joke on me to work and hope and wait for (fill in the blank) and I’ll never have anything to show for it? And by the way, everyone else for sure had it years ago.
“And the whole thing about a seed is you can’t see it, its hidden, nothing may happen to it for a very long time, and it’s almost none of your business what’s happening with the seed. Your job is to plant it,” says my favorite children’s author, Sally Lloyd Jones, in her musical British accent. Be patient with the harvest.
James also gives us his own Biblical examples of patience to emulate as the prophets. Job, who lost everything, everything. He put up with three unhelpful friends who poured salt in open wounds – accusing him of sin he hadn’t committed, but he held on tight to what he knew of God. Jeremiah, who spoke bravely for forty years, being called as a young man and speaking God’s word to deaf ears and cement hearts all his life. Daniel, taken away as a teenager to enemy territory and sitting for three years under enemy influence and indoctrination as he held fast to the God of His people, also interpreting weird dreams, brought into the highest tiers of government. Jonah, who tried to peace out of God’s calling on his life and ran away, repented in the belly of the fish, and saw an incredible harvest of an entire city of people turning to God.
“Patient” here means “to be of long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles.” And how? By establishing our hearts, “make stable, place firmly, to render constant.” And how? By knowing the One we fix our hearts on. Telling yourself truth day-in and day-out. At the moment I feel like all my working and waiting in Jesus will never amount to anything, cling to His promises.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Because of the mystery and victory of Christ’s resurrection, we can be confident that we are not on a fool’s errand in following Jesus. Oh no, it is not vanity to hold out belief that He is coming. I don’t know how He will answer our waiting in this life. Nor do I know what kind of patience you’re bearing up under. But don’t stop.
Keep praying for the unbeliever you love who shows no interest in Jesus. Keep doing your dutiful daily grind. Keep loving people who are hard to love. Keep studying hard. Keep asking God for what you’ve been asking for years. Keep wiping little faces. Keep at it in your job. Mostly keep believing Jesus is far grander than our minds can even comprehend, and He is on His way back to us.