Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7
Waiting can be a culprit in stealing our peace. According to computer scientist Ramesh Sitaraman, few things “inspire universal frustration and ire” in internet users as waiting for a sluggish web browser to load. His research says that we’re willing to wait an average of two seconds for an online video to load. After five seconds, the abandonment rate is about twenty-five percent, and after ten seconds, half of the users desert their efforts. We’re certainly an impatient bunch!
James encouraged believers in Jesus to not abandon Him while they were waiting for His second coming. Christ’s return would motivate them to stand firm in the face of suffering and to love and honor one another (James 5:7–10). James used the example of the farmer to make his point. Like the farmer, who waited patiently for “autumn and spring rains” (v. 7) and for the land to yield its valuable crop, James encouraged believers to be patient under oppression until Jesus returned. And when He returned, He would right every wrong and bring shalom, peace.
Sometimes, we’re tempted to forsake Jesus while we wait for Him. But as we wait, let’s “keep watch” (Matthew 24:42), remain faithful (25:14–30), and live out His character and ways (Colossians 3:12). Though we don’t know when Jesus will return, let’s wait patiently for Him, as long as it takes.
What’s hardest about waiting for Jesus’ return? How’s His return an incentive for living out His character and ways?
Jesus, I’ll wait for You. Though the world is dark and filled with pain, suffering, injustice, and uncertainty, I’ll wait for You. Though I don’t know the day or the time, I’ll wait for You.
Because James’ readers lived in agricultural communities, many understood the patience required to wait for a harvest. They may not have given enough thought, however, to waiting for more lasting and profitable returns. So James paints a picture of contrast. First, he describes the impatience of wealthy landowners who aren’t willing to wait for the payoff of a life well lived (James 5:1–6). With eyes set on getting rich quickly, they built wealth off the backs of underpaid and mistreated harvesters. Then James makes a turn. He urges brothers and sisters in Jesus to consider whether by grumbling against one another they’re showing similar lack of concern for others. He urges them to weigh the value of a harvest of wisdom and peace rather than conflict (1:5; 3:13–18)—a harvest assured by a loving God and a Judge “full of compassion and mercy” (5:11) who’s promised to return (v. 8).