James 5:8 (New International Version)
You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Are the people in the doctor’s surgery called “patients” because the doctor is always running behind time and they have to be “patient” waiting for him? Maybe not, but it can be hard to be patient, and especially to be patient in suffering. Even without suffering it can be difficult to be patient. The pace of our society seems to be ever quickening – fast food, instant messaging, video on demand – and the idea of waiting for anything or anyone seems outmoded.
Perhaps it is those things we most desire it is the most difficult to wait for, and what do we long for more than the Lord’s return? It is inevitable, as surely as the seasons follow one from another, but exactly when it will be we do not know.
The strange thing is, James does not say we should be patient because it may be some time before the Lord returns, but we should be patient because it is near! The wait is almost over, the dawn has almost come, surely you can persevere through the little time that remains, seems to be what he is saying.
Yet there is a warning here as well. When Jesus returns, it will be to judge. So let’s not spend our waiting in restlessness, and certainly not in grumbling against one another, but standing firm, knowing the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.