Thursday, May 26, 2011

Patience

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

** Patience, perseverance, long-suffering, forbearing **

I recently listened to a sermon by one of my favorite pastors teach about patience out of the book of James. This was hard (but in a good, convicting sort of way) thing to listen to. He pointed out that patience is something that we SO admire in OTHER people, but we usually think it is a quality that we are unable to posess. It's unattainable. It is TOO hard to persevere and develop patience. Oh, when we think about it in a grandiose way, such as suffering the ills of this world and persevering until God takes us home.....then it seems to be something we can achieve. But when we think of it as persevering in struggles in our marriages, churches, friendships....it seems to be a bit more difficult, especially in this disposable world that we live in. People seem to run away at the first sign of trouble. If their feelings are hurt or they do not feel respected, they (we, me, I) are quick to find a new friend, or go to that other church around the corner, or dump that husband/wife and find a new "life partner" that will think they are AWESOME!

That is not what God instructs us to do. He tells us to be like the farmer. In our shiny, digital, fast-paced world, it is hard to remember the farmer. Think back with me. Remember Charles Ingalls who lived in that Little House on the Prairie? But think about how they lived. They relied on that crop for food. They worked and toiled and did everything in their power to bring a good crop. They didn't move and find a new place to live just because it was a bad season. They kept putting in the work, over and over, relying soley on hard work, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, and GOD. God is the One ultimately with the power to bring the sunshine and rain when needed. God is our life. Without the power of God in our lives, we are unable to bring forth any crop - fruit of the Spirit. 

Remember that fruit? Love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Yes, patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that this world tells us to just dispose of relationships that don't seem to be serving us well. We need to be different. We need to fight for our marriages. We need to put on LOVE, which covers a multitude of sins [1 Peter 4:8] and never fails [1 Corinthians 13:8]. We need to repent and repair our relationships in the church. The church is stronger when we stay, forgive and love each other. This is how we demonstrate the love and forgiveness of Christ  for the world. By doing things that don't make sense to outsiders. And you know what - forgiveness, long-suffering and love don't make sense. And that is why it is truly a GOD THING! Praise Him!

And the final point - why should we be patient? Because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Surprisingly enough, the rapture did not happen last Saturday as predicted (insert much sarcasm since NO ONE knows when the Lord shall come), Christ will return. It could be today, tomorrow, or a hundred  years from now. But if it is today, how will He find you? Patient and loving? Or more like the world, where people and relationships are disposable?
 

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