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Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold,
the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about
it, until it gets the early and late rains.  You too be patient; strengthen
your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not complain,
brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold,
the Judge is standing right at the door.  As an example, brethren,
of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the
Lord.  Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of
the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings,
that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by
earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no;
so that you may not fall under judgment. NASB
For some of us, it would be easier to climb Yosemite's Half Dome, on
one leg, with our hands tied behind our back then it is to do what James
tells us to do in this passage of scripture-be patient. When I lived in
Albuquerque, the men in my church would often tell me, "Slow down Pastor,
don't be in such a hurry." Part of the reason was that New Mexico is the
land of Manana, just about everything can wait there. But part of
it was they'd spotted a restlessness in my soul-an impatience that constantly
drives me to do more in less time. An impatience that reduces productivity
over the long haul and retards a person's ultimate potential.
James tells his readers to be patient. Just as the farmer has to wait
for her seed to germinate, sprout through the soil and become a plant that
gives her produce, so must we be patient.
Patience is a precious commodity. How valuable is patience?
For Joe Treala is was worth a million dollars. Treala, a resident of
Gilroy, California won a million dollars when he answered the following
question on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,""What
insect shorted out an early supercomputer and inspired the term, "computer
bug?" The answer "moth" was worth a million dollars to the 25-year-old
computer customer service representative.
Treala took his time answering
this and other questions. It took him 15 minutes to answer one of the questions.
"The producers were getting kinda cranky with me," he said. His patience
was uncanny, even unnerving. But in the end, his patient ways paid off
for him-a million different ways.
Treala's patience wasn't
just shown in the way he played the game, but in how he got there. Treala
tried out for Jeopardy several times, but was never invited on the show. But
he didn't give up, he kept trying to get on a game show and when he did,
his patience finally paid off.
Like it did for Mark Hansen
and Jack Canfield.
For over two decades Mark
Hansen and Jack Canfield shared "stories of hope, inspiration, and encouragement"
in their seminars. When they saw how their stories touched their audiences,
they tried to find a publisher to put them into print. Some publishers
thought the stories were too "nicey-nice." Others said "Nobody wants to
read a book of little stories." Others said just plain "No!" After three
years and 33 rejections, they finally found someone who would publish Chicken
Soup for the Soul. Their own experience mimics the power of the stories
they tell; it is the drama of triumph through hardship and the victory
of the human spirit. It
shows that hard work, patience and determination will pay off. If you don't
give up.(Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Failure doesn't have to be
fatal. Too often we give up before we realize our potential. Most people
wouldn't have pressed on past 33 rejections, but Hansen and Canfield did,
and millions of readers are glad they did.
Too often people let one
set back or failure define their lives. Jack Kilby could have done that,
but he didn't. MIT turned down Jack Kilby's application for admission because
his Math scores were too low. As a result, Kilby never received much training
in physics and didn't get the education he desired. But on December 10,
2000 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences gave him the Nobel Prize in
Why? Well he only invented
something that has probably changed your life and has definitely changed
history-the microchip. (Fresh
didn't let a setback keep him down, he patiently pursued his dreams. He
didn't give up.
Sometimes people create their
own problems that they have to work to overcome in later years. In 1991
Michael Bennett made a mistake that cost him dearly. While a freshman at
a Christian college, North Park University in Chicago, IL, Bennett was
arrested with a friend for armed robbery. The judge sentenced him to 15
years in jail. Bennett was down, but he wasn't out. While in jail, he began
boxing. His sentence was reduced to 7 years and when he was released he
got a job working long hours in a steel mill.
Bennett became a proficient
boxer. He was the 1999 World Champion and 2000 US Champion. He is getting
his life back, as evidenced by the confidence the USA boxing coach placed
in him by making him co-captain of the 2000 USA Olympic team that competed
Bennett's story illustrates
that even when someone makes a major mistake, they still can turn their
life around. As every boxer knows, being down doesn't necessarily mean
Bennett didn't win in Sidney,
Cuba's Felix Savon beat him, knocking him out of the tournament. In a post
fight interview, Bennett said, "We're still all happy because we came out
here and did our best and that's all we can ask for from anybody," Bennett
said, "to get out there and give 110 per cent, just hang on don't give
up, don't quit, only the strong survive."
Something Bennett learned
the hard way. His determination and patience makes him a champion, with
or without a gold medal.
Whether it is overcoming
rejection or failure, successful people have the ability to endure and
the patience to overcome the obstacles in their way.
In this passage, James tells
us, we need to be patient with God, we need to be patient in circumstances
and we need to be patient with one another. We need to be patient with
God because he is in control and everything will work out in the end. For
now, we often get discouraged because it looks like evil is winning while
good is losing. It is hard to see the rubble from the twin towers without
asking God why he doesn't intervene and triumph over evil. Exactly what
He is going to do-in His time.
Matthew 24:44 (NASB) says,
"For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour
when you do not think He will." The day will come when He returns, but
until then, we are to be patient. The writer of Hebrews wrote:
"We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order
to make your hope sure." (Hebrews 6:11 NIV)
As we are patient with God,
so are we patient in our circumstances. Life doesn't always go according
to our plans-actually, it rarely goes according to our plans. Perhaps that
is why James warns against making plans that we can't control in the previous
chapter. In Galatians
6:9, (KJV) Paul
encourages us to endure through difficult circumstances. He wrote: "And
let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if
we faint not."
The Christian story is one
of overcoming our obstacles and our sinfulness. Paul wrote:
"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision
of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us
all our transgressions," (Col. 2:13 NASB)
Failure doesn't have to be
fatal, you can experience the life-giving power of forgiveness and become
"alive in Christ."
And because failure is a
common denominator in the human experience, we are to be patient with one
another. In Romans 15:5-7, (NLT) Paul wrote, "May God, who gives this patience
and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other--each
with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other.  Then all of you
can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So accept each other just as Christ has accepted
you; then God will be glorified."
Like Job, James wants us
to be patient with God, patient with our circumstances and patient with
one another. And if we will, we will find "God's best" for us and experience
the compassionate and merciful outcome God has planned for our life.