We recently took a trip to Tennessee over a weekend with all three of our kids in tow. We spent a total of 20 hours in the car over a period of four days. How many times do you think we heard the phrase “are we there yet”? If you guessed 1 million you’d be right. It’s pretty common knowledge that children have very short attention spans and want things to happen quickly. Often as adults we get frustrated with them for their inability to wait or at least to wait well, but how often do we have the same struggle? I can honestly say that a great deal of time in my life has been spent on asking the question “are we there yet”, whether it was when I was twenty and all of my closest friends were getting married and I wasn’t, or when they were all having babies and I wasn’t, or when I was waiting for “the perfect job”, and wasn’t getting it. I’ve spent a lot of time waiting and I bet you have too.
A major theme in the Christian life is waiting. As believers in Jesus, we wait for sanctification, we wait for answers to prayer, and we wait for Jesus’ return when He will restore all things to Himself. Even as adults, it’s hard to wait for these things. Waiting well doesn’t come naturally to any of us. Thankfully, we have God’s Word to teach us how to wait.
In chapter 5, verses 7-8 of James’ epistle he writes, “7 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. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Here we see that the farmer doesn’t rush ahead. He doesn’t harvest his crop before giving it time to grow. What would happen if he did that? He’d have really puny produce! We can also see that the farmer has to endure rain, which can be a metaphor for hardships. Without rain, plants don’t grow. The same can be said for our faith. I have seen God use hardships in significant ways in my own life and the lives of those around me. Looking back on your own life, can you see how God has used difficult situations to make you more like Him?
When we endure hardships, we must “establish our hearts”. We must put our hope in the Gospel of Jesus. In his commentary on verse 8, John MacArthur writes, “This is a call for resolute, firm courage and commitment. James exhorts those about to collapse under the weight of persecution to shore up their hearts with the hope of the Second Coming.” We do this through regular Bible study, prayer, and corporate worship. Our fickle hearts need to be reminded often of God’s character and His promises.
As we consider this passage let’s ask ourselves, do we wait with patience like James talks about, or do we wait like my kids in the backseat of the car?