James 5:7-12 – Patience in the Midst of Suffering

These words strike one of the leading chords of the Epistle. There is no grace which its readers are more earnestly exhorted to cultivate than that of patience. In the preceding verses James has been denouncing the rich ungodly Jews. The Epistle was not addressed to them, however, but to the Christian Jews who were suffering from their oppression and cruelty. 

To wait constitutes a large portion of religious duty. Indeed, patience is not a segment merely of the Christian character; it is a spirit which is to pervade every fiber of it. In all ages spiritual wants and trials are the same; and believers, therefore, have always the same “need of patience.” To “wait upon God” is a frequent exhortation of Scripture. The cultivation of this patience is perfectly consistent with holy activity. It springs from the same root of faith from which good works spring. We show our faith not only by our active “works,” but also when we “endure, as seeing him who is invisible.” Again, Christian patience is to coexist along with the fullest sensibility of suffering. “Long-suffering” necessarily involves the consciousness of suffering; and so does “patience,” as the etymology of the word reminds us. Christian comfort does not come to us in connection with any incapability of sorrow; it comes as the result of the subjugation of the passions, and the cultivation of complete acquiescence in the Divine will. The apostle indicates the limit of this long-suffering – “until the coming of the Lord.”

[And] “the coming of the Lord is at hand.” This implies, first of all, that the Lord is sure to come. While no farmer possesses an absolute certainty in reference to the harvest on his own particular farm, every one who in the spiritual sphere “sows to the Spirit” may rest assured that the day of an abundant and blessed ingathering will arrive. The Lord Jesus, who came to our world nearly nineteen centuries ago, is to come again, His second coming is the greatest event in the future of the Church. It is the pole-star of her hopes. When he appears, the spiritual harvest shall be reaped. We, accordingly, shall cherish the true spirit of long-suffering, only in so far as we “love his appearing,” and realize that the purpose of it is to reward his people and take vengeance upon their enemies. It is a sign that our faith is weak, if we meditate seldom, and pray little, about our Lord’s second coming. How different was it in this respect with the apostles and the early Church! But, if the final advent was near in the first century, it is still nearer now; and in the interval what arrears of vengeance have been accumulating! It should be our comfort in the time of trouble to reflect that “the coming of the Lord is at hand.” The whole New Testament Church lies under the shadow of the second advent. It will be an event of infinite moment, and therefore it is never far away. To the view of God, with whom “one day is as a thousand years,” this event is nigh; and the men of faith learn to see it from God’s point of view. Compared, also, with the great eternity on the other side, the second advent seems “at hand.” What an encouragement does this thought supply, in the direction of devout patience, both in working and in suffering! It should be at once a spur and an anodyne, to know that the Lord is already on his way. For, when he comes, he will reward all service, and right every wrong, and take his people home to himself.

C. Jerdan

Read James 5:7-12 and consider what it means to be patient through suffering. Where do you struggle with patience and trust in the Lord in the midst of difficult times in your life? How might these verses be encouragement for the Spirit’s continued work in your life?

Come Thou Fount by Chris Rice

Posted on: June 26, 2020 - 12:00PM

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