I came across something in the news last week that said that California's governor had released more details of his plan to reopen the state and churches were way at the back of his list. My heart sunk and I felt angry.
I asked the Lord, what are we to do?
The Lord directed me to this word in James 5:7-11. Verse 7 says, "Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7; ESV).
The verb for "be patient" here in Greek is makrothumeo, literally "be long suffering." This word is similar to hypomone, another word in this passage that means "patient endurance, steadfastness, perseverance." The ESV translates it as "steadfastness;" the NRSV translates it as "endurance."
"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 was compassionate and merciful." (James 5:10-11; ESV).
In this passage at the end of his letter, James is encouraging the Christians of his day to patiently wait for Christ's second coming and to persevere knowing God's purposes for them are good.
The life of faith is often compared to running a race. A long-distance runner needs patient endurance. The runner must maintain an even pace, not too fast, but not too slow, and keep moving, one foot after another, until she reaches the goal. Sometimes the runner may feel like she is just plodding along, but she keeps going, patiently enduring the physical suffering that it takes to complete the race. She patiently waits in hope of finishing the race and receiving a prize.
Patient endurance is so important for the Christian life and for the life of hope. The Christian needs perseverance and endurance in order to finish the race of faith. When we face despairing situations, we are tempted to stop running the race of faith. God is encouraging us to not give up. Keep running!
God is a God of hope and grace. His children never give up. His grace enables them to patiently endure and finish the race and receive a prize.
James had written earlier in his letter, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life" (James 1:12; ESV).
God's word to me and to all of us is to patiently wait upon him during this time. I was not glad to hear that at first, but I was encouraged by the Lord to wait for him.
In this passage I was reminded that we don't wait for people. People will disappoint. We as Christians wait upon the Lord who alone is our salvation.
The Lord has his purpose and his timing just as he had in Job's life. We are called by God to trust in his purpose during this period of suffering and to wait upon him as his hidden purposes unfold for us and all his children.
Father in heaven, we thank you for your purposes for our lives. Even though we can't see what you are doing, we know that you are working on our behalf. You ask us to wait patiently for you. We take our eyes off of people, circumstances, and our suffering. Forgive us for grumbling. In your mercy enable us to trust you and your purposes for us and for our nation. Instead of grumbling we choose to lift up praises to you. For you are deserving of praise at all times. To God be the glory! Amen.
Listen to this song of hope called "Way Maker" (Recorded by Michael W. Smith) Click here.