Faith & Patience: Thoughts on James 5:7-12
Remember the future. Keep it in mind. Let it bear weight on all my actions and interactions. This world is temporal. I’m constantly striving and grasping to squeeze every last bit out of this here and now. I run constantly for here to there to fill my time and thoughts with as much as possible without physically exhausting myself, and usually don’t succeed.
Remember the future. I am enamored with the present. I’m consumed with it and with the next step. This culture perpetuates it with its constant bombardment of stuff I need to buy, things I need to fix about myself, the endless possibilities that really only serve to create discontentment in my present circumstances, this ceaseless fixation on war and controversy and blaming and hating.
We live in a time that says grab, move, change, strive covet, compare, consume, retaliate, destroy. This is it. You’d better work your tail off to get it now or you will miss it, regret it. You have to fight for your rights because meekness doesn’t inherit the earth.
But Jesus is coming again.
Our hope then, should be grounded in the future, not the now. Christ is our goal, our aim, our home, our hope, our rest. Christ is our breath, our light, our peace, our eternal glory.
And my life should flow with gratitude out of Him.
Gratitude. Every time I get discontent with my current lot in life that is what I am missing. I forget the bigger picture. I stop holding on to the hope of the future. The best is yet to come. This world with its strife and war and bickering will fall away.
God’s plan of redemption steadily grows brighter in our current darkness.
James tells us to strengthen our hearts. Strength through patience. I have a hard time reconciling those two qualities together. Everyone who knows me well knows that patience definitely doesn’t rank as one of my strengths.
Strength through patience means people: the height of my daily angst and struggles. Stop grumbling. Stop complaining. Stop avoiding. Stop going around people. Stop festering in impatience at quirks and personality differences and inconveniences. Remember the future. Remember what Christ has done for me, in me. A wise make overlooks offence. A soft answer turns away wrath.
Each of us is made in the image of God. Each. One. None is ordinary. None, a mere mortal, easily dismissed and diminished. Love your neighbor as yourself. See the beauty in another soul. Stop the current of busyness and search it out. Look up from the phone. Put it away and smile and say hello and mean it.
Establish my heart, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Steadfastness. Endurance. An indication of inevitable suffering. And I will waver. I can’t pretend I will stay strong in the resolve of faith I feel now. But even in my imperfect steadfastness God is gracious, patient, and ever constant. His mercies are new every morning.
My faithfulness doesn’t determine God’s faithfulness to me. Christ’s faithfulness on the cross determines God’s faithfulness to me.
Gratitude fills with joy overflowing with freedom. Freedom from terror at current events, from fear of sideways looks of judgement, from anxiety of the unknown of tomorrow. Gratitude at the sunrise, the open sky, the changing seasons. Joy at the peculiarities of another immortal soul made in the image of my Creator. Another hint of the divine stamp of artistry.
God has not left us here to toil and worry and fail to flourish. He is with us like the timely rains and the cool relief of dropping temperatures. Give what I think is missing in the world. Give mercy and grace and love and forgiveness and a kind word. Give what has freely been given to me, while still a broken sinner.
Remember the future. My hope is in Christ – him crucified, then glorified, and coming again.
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