James 5:7-10 extols the virtue of patience and bids me to look to farmers and prophets who exemplify it. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting, so James exhorts those who grow impatient to strengthen their hearts. Patience is more than simply waiting. It requires strength and endurance to run the race and not be discouraged. Listen to the what James has to say.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (NASB)
The more we have to wait, the more we complain. It’s easy to strike up a conversation in an airport terminal when flights are delayed or when waiting in a slow moving line. Complaints bring us together in one discord. As the wait becomes longer, complaints become divisive. Fingers start pointing, and judging begins in earnest. James tells us the Judge is standing right at the door; that should cause us to stop bickering and start working together in a way that focuses upon the moment when the door will open, and we will be in God’s presence.
We may die before Christ returns, and that was something that caused the early Christians much grief. It still causes grief as we all want to be here for the Second Coming. One way or the other, we will be in the presence of the Judge. The good news is that we can prepare for that meeting by living in a way that glorifies God. That includes repenting when we slip off the path. God doesn’t expect perfection. Christ is our righteousness. His perfect love and gracious forgiveness pave the way for patience when we strengthen our hearts and work together.