Patience

We consider blessed those who have persevered (James 5:11).

Better not pray for patience,” a friend once warned. “The Lord will be sure to send you some trouble!”  I’m not sure I agree with her theology.  Rather, I believe tough times come because we live in a fallen world where hardship and pain are simply a reality.

Jesus himself warned us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  James reminds us that if we persevere—holding up patiently under trial—we will be blessed.  Happy.  Fortunate.  Even joyful (James 1:2-4).

The word translated patiencemakrothymia, comes from two Greek words which mean “long” and “anger.”  A patient person is “long-suffering” as opposed to one who gives in to hasty anger.

James exhorts us to observe the farmer in our quest for patience:

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (James 5:7,8).

I have to confess I’m not eager to walk through circumstances that build patience.  Be honest. How often do you see the words patient and happy in the same sentence?  But God promises to transform our hard places into places of joy. Christians who have suffered persecution in dangerous places tell of how God gave them supernatural patience and even joy right in the middle of their afflictions!

My friend Ange’s family was torn apart during the Rwandan genocide.  When fleeing from the soldiers, she became separated from her husband, not knowing his whereabouts until they were miraculously reunited after eight long years of searching for each other!

When I asked how she survived, she answered, “I stood on Romans 5:3-5.  God’s Word promised me that I could rejoice in my sufferings. They were bringing me perseverance.  Perseverance produces character, and character hope.”  “And hope,” she added softly, “does not disappoint us.”

Perhaps we could learn a lesson from believers like Ange who follow Christ in hard places where persecution and hardship are a daily threat—India, Sudan, China, the Middle East.  As we look at their patience in the face of suffering, let’s take heart from their example and learn to stand firm in our own trials.

Lord, give me the courage to see You even in the storms of life. To persevere through pain until I see Your glory. Help me to trust You, for You are full of compassion and mercy.  You have promised victory.  Keep me strong until the storm passes over.  May my trial be an opportunity for me to grow and for You to shine.


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