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Patient in Affliction

FAITH AT WORK: Devotions through the book of James

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.” (James 5:7, ESV) 

James is writing to those undergoing suffering in this world. His rebuke of the rich we saw in our last devotion gives us an idea of one source of that suffering – the oppression by those who have of those who have not. But in this fallen world, we all experience miseries of life from a variety of sources. 

After addressing the rich (5:1), James speaks to the brothers. Not that those who have money cannot be brothers, part of the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Rather, James is extending comfort and encouragement to those weighed down by injustice and oppression. 

The operative word in James’ exhortation is patience. He opens by saying, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord” (5:7). There will come a day when wrongs will be made right, when oppression will cease, and suffering be no more. It’s all tied in to the reality of the kingdom of Jesus Christ that is already present but will one day be ushered in in fullness. It is this kingdom that believers are to seek. 

In true pastoral fashion, James drives home his admonition with an illustration. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7). The sense is that we cannot rush the Lord’s hand but we can be certain that He will bring relief and renewal about in His time. 

James may well have in mind the writing of the Old Testament prophet Joel. “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame” (Joel 2:23–26). 

The perspective James provides is not simply waiting but waiting on the Lord. God is working out His purposes and His promises will prevail. God is for His people. 

Again, James picks up the call to patience. “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). In addition to the endurance and longsuffering of patience in affliction, James adds another element. “Establish your hearts.” The sense is to make firm. In the face of adversity, we must burrow ourselves more deeply into the everlasting arms of our Lord. We double down on the hope that is ours in Christ. 

We’re reminded that faith has a foundation, a firm foundation. Those who hope in Christ will not be disappointed. 

1. What is your greatest struggle in dealing with suffering?

2. How would you describe the power of patience? 

“Lord God, help me to wait upon You that I might renew my strength.”

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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