Patient in Faith 5

James 5:7-8

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” It’s funny, but it’s true – and it’s true because there is nothing we can do about the weather. And who knows better than farmers?

They till their fields, plant the crops, fertilize and tend to them, but ultimately they must trust in the perseverance of the plants to endure no matter what the weather brings.

The same is true of the faithful believer. We can have faith. We can believe. We can pray and study Scripture, and we can strive to imitate Christ in our thoughts and actions. But we have no idea what is coming our way. We have no idea what all the challenges of life we will face. And sometimes there is nothing we can do to stop them. We just need to be ready to face them.

What does James urge us to do? What example does he give? What does he encourage in verse 8?

One obvious interpretation of this passage is that believers must be patient and wait for the Second Coming of Christ. The faithful are to wait with anticipation the Day of Judgment when all who love Jesus will be taken up to heaven.

But I also believe we are called on to be patient for the times that are coming before that final judgment. As farmers must wait for the yield of crops, we too must be patient to see the yield of our faith.

James urges us to stand firm. We are to stand firm in our faith, having complete confidence that God will be with us as we go through the hardships of life. God can give us the strength and peace to endure the challenges and temptations we face.

The Lord’s coming is near, and it is more than just the final day of mortal existence. The Lord will come to you – he is near to you – when situations challenge your trust in God or when troubles make you want to doubt or you see yourself as weak.

DAILY CHALLENGE: what can help you stand firm in your faith?

Patient in Faith 4

Romans 5:3-4

As a parent it may be difficult to watch your child grow and develop. It is part of the maturing process to try things, fail, try again, and ultimately succeed. Just as the saying goes – you learn from your mistakes – you also grow stronger as you repeatedly attempt certain activities.

Little children must learn how to walk on their own. You can’t walk for them, and as they learn there will be the occasional fall. But eventually those falls will become less and less as the child develops, grows, and becomes stronger and more able.

The same is true of faith. When we turn our hearts over to God we are given faith. We know in our souls that we are loved by God and we get that incredible sense of grace from the Lord. But that is the beginning. We must continue to grow and develop spiritually from that point. And along the way we will face challenges and possible setbacks, but these can help us become stronger.

Paul offers encouragement in the fifth chapter of Romans. Why should we rejoice? What does suffering produce? What does perseverance produce? What does character produce?

We certainly do not want or need to go out looking for trouble and challenges, but when they come our way we should meet them with confidence. Paul claims that Christians rejoice in their suffering. This is hard to do and may be an overstatement.

Rather than rejoice because we have troubles, we should rejoice in the opportunity of growth. When we face troubles we are given the opportunity to become better people, believers with a stronger faith.

When troubles and challenges strike we can have the confidence that God will work with us to overcome them and He will help to build us up. The challenges teach us to persevere, to keep plugging away and to hold on dearly to our relationship with Jesus. As we make it through our troubles we are stronger, our faith is deeper. Our relationship is proved to be valid and strong.

With that we have more character, a better, more sound and secure connection to God. And that gives us hope, hope that as we face future challenges we will again be able to rely on God and grow stronger in our faith.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you develop a sense of hope to face challenges and troubles?

Patient in Faith 3

Romans 12:11-12

In college I contracted mononucleosis, a debilitating illness that weakens the body so much that simply walking across a room can exhaust you. The remedy was to take medications, but also to rest. This was difficult to do because after several hours of lying in bed I felt that I had regained my strength. But when I tried to do anything I was worn out after the smallest activity.

I quickly learned that I had to be patient in my affliction. The best thing to do was to be sick, allowing my body to work through the illness until I improved.

In his letter to the church in Rome Paul has advice on faith. What are we to keep? What should be our attitude? What should we do?

It can be so difficult to maintain our faith sometimes. We are faced with temptations and challenges in life, and we may join in with the disciples who asked Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). But faith is not always something that comes in full force and in an instant.

We must learn to be patient in our faith. That patience may involve waiting through the difficult situations trusting that God will use those times to build us up. But being patient in our faith does not mean we sit by idly and watch.

Patience in faith requires attentiveness on our part and an investment of our hearts, souls and minds.

As we wait to be stronger in our faith we must work to build up that faith. We are called to have zeal – passion, eagerness – in our spiritual attitude. While we wait we must have joy in anticipation that God will be working with us and through us, and that God will resolve the issues we face.

The best way to achieve this is to be faithful in our prayers. We can pray for stronger faith. We can pray for the patience we need to wait for that time when God will finally call on us to act. We can pray to grow nearer to the Lord, to have our spirits draw closer to the Holy Spirit that we might be more Christ-like in our thoughts and actions.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you have zeal for God’s kingdom? How can you still have spiritual fervor even if this is a time of waiting?

Patient in Faith 2

Luke 6:20-21

Anticipation is not always a good thing. It can feel very frustrating to have to put off satisfaction until later. Preparing a delicious meal and smelling all the food cooking can really whet your appetite for what you will eat, but waiting can drive you to madness. Watching the mail for that check you are expecting or that package you ordered can seem an eternity.

But as I grow older I find that I am more willing to put off that time of reward and completeness and enjoy the time of waiting. It may seem odd, but there is a sense of thrill to be expecting something good that is coming your way. And the longer you can anticipate, the more rewarding is the arrival, it seems.

Jesus presents some concepts of anticipation in his “Sermon on the Mount.” Who is blessed? What can they expect to happen?

In his teaching Jesus went straight to the heart of the matter and talked about some real issues for the common person. He talked about poverty, not having enough money to make it comfortably from day to day. He talked about being sad.

When he talked about these things, though, he offered a promise that the people (and us) could hold onto. Things will get better. Be patient. God will move in wonderful ways and things will improve and be wonderful.

Just as I have grown older and learned that anticipating is something I can put up with and almost enjoy, so it is with those who have a maturing faith. Becoming a Christian and becoming a follower of God means that you are entered into a life and journey of expectation and anticipation.

As believers in God we are on a journey of faith. We can (hopefully) see our own spiritual strength and discipline grow deeper and better year after year. With each passing year we learn to expect more and more holy moments and encounters with God. We learn to anticipate more opportunities to serve God.

Ultimately, we are also living a life of expectation – expecting to be gathered home in glory. We anticipate a final return of Christ, and until that day we live a life expecting to see God moving in our lives and the lives of others. We expect to see God’s grace and mercy and justice.

This anticipation and expectation should bring us hope, and in that hope we should find joy.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can make it easier for you to put up with life’s struggles?

Patient in Faith 1

Psalm 37:7

Many years ago I went bear hunting at a small camp in a remote area of Canada. Although I never did even see a bear, let alone bag one, I got some valuable lessons from the experience. Bear hunting requires a great deal of control – sitting on a small perch in a tree for four to six hours, staying alert the whole time without speaking or going to the restroom.

We talk about how we trust God and how we can rely on God, but it is difficult to put our faith into real action. We watch the news and get aggravated at what is not happening to help the desperate people of Haiti. We watch what happens in our own government and feel angry that there is not more honesty, that more good work is not being done. Other issues in our lives and around the world upset us. And we forget that we are called to be patient in faith.

What does the psalmist advise? What should we NOT do?

The writer of Psalm 37 tells us to be still before the Lord. We are to call on our own self-control, our own trust, enough that we can calm our minds and our restless spirit. This is how we achieve stillness.

We are to wait for the Lord. We are to be aware that God has His own timetable and moves in His own ways, ways we do not understand. Our fretting and our worry need to be set aside, quieted. In their place we must put our own peace and trust.

Although we do not agree with what is happening around us, we must trust in God and wait for Him to guide. Although we do not understand the ways of the Lord, we must trust in God and wait for Him to move.

Some may feel that being still before the Lord is simple – you just give up hopes and desires and thoughts. But in fact, being still before the Lord requires more than just giving up caring about things. Being still before the Lord is more than inactivity. To be still before the Lord requires that we exercise control over ourselves, that we remain alert for God’s direction, and that we remain ready to step in where God leads.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to find the stillness your faith needs?