Devotional Week 5: Be Patient and Trust in the Lord

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QUESTION: Why is it hard to be patient when we’re waiting for something?
READ
: James 5:7–11

MEMORY VERSE: “…be patient and stand firm…don’t grumble against one another…” (James 5:8-9a)

One of the best things about having a vegetable garden is having fresh vegetables. One of the worst things about having a garden is worrying about everything that can go wrong and all the potentially wasted time. Anyone who has gardened or done any type of farming understands this anxiety. So much is out of your hands—weather, animals, soil, the crop itself—that it’s hard not to worry. However, if you have done any type of planting you also know that there comes a time that you have to accept that you are not in control and take care of what you can. James, like so many before him, uses this farming image to remind us that God is sovereign, and we must trust Him to patiently fulfill His promises.

James needs to tell his audience this because they see wicked people prospering while they suffer. As these people of God are oppressed by the godless rich (James 5:1–6), they wonder if God will judge the wicked. This is a common question throughout Scripture and one we can all relate to. We look at the world and see wicked people prospering while God’s people suffer. At times it causes us to wonder if God really cares. James emphatically says yes! God is not mocked. He will bring judgment upon those who “have condemned and murdered the righteous person” (James 5:6), but we must patiently wait for the day of judgment.

He says to “…be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8) and wait like “the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth” (James 5:7). The farmer has no control over when the harvest will come, but he waits for the precious fruit until that day. In the same way, we are to wait for the coming day of our redemption. The farmer is not disheartened by the slow progress of time. He endures the delay, waiting for the harvest because it will give him life. He is completely dependent on God’s provision in this. The same is true when it comes to the Lord’s return and the injustice that surrounds us.

Like a farmer, we must trust God with what we cannot control while honoring Him with what we can. But, while we wait patiently and endure trials, we will be tempted to sin.

When evil torments us, we will groan and lament, but James tells us to not “groan” to the Lord against another and sin. He knows we will be tempted to complain and speak evil against one another while in trials, but we must resist the temptation. He tells us to remember that the Judge is coming, and we want to be found faithful with what we can control—how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

James graciously gives us three pictures of patience to encourage us—just in case one doesn’t do the trick. The second example is that of a prophet. We see prophets in the middle of persecution stand boldly and speak out against injustice. Waiting patiently and trusting God to provide does not lead to inaction. Instead, it should give us confidence in our message since we do not control the outcome—the Lord is in control. Thus, in the middle of hardship, we are to speak about the goodness, greatness, judgment, and mercy of God. Times of suffering are often a great opportunity to speak a word for the glory of God.

Moving to a specific example, James says, “You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord” (James 5:11). Other than Jesus, Job is the most remarkable example of suffering and steadfastness in Scripture. James tells us to look to Job as encouragement in a time of suffering. We see that God is faithful to accomplish His promises. Job’s story is a good reminder in times of trials and temptations. Whatever we are walking through is not the end of the story. Job found this to be true—even while dealing with the worst friends in history—and so will we. The end will reveal that the Lord is indeed “compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Though we may not see the end right now, we are called to be patient like the farmer and wait for the precious fruit Jesus will bring when He returns.

QUESTION: Do you struggle with not having control over everything? Does God’s sovereignty give you comfort in difficult times? How do you fight against the temptation to not trust in the Lord during trials?
QUESTION: If you struggle with pride and being in control, what can you do daily to remind yourself that God is in control and you are not?

DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Reflection

You may not be someone who journals or writes. Perhaps you’ve tried it before, but you just didn’t have the time or find it helpful. However, it’s a good practice that can help us reflect on God, ourselves, and the world. Anytime God rescued His people or did something for them, they made a memorial so that they wouldn’t forget His grace and goodness. We can do the same thing through journaling.

So, take the time to write down reflections from the day. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Here are a few examples of things to consider—What evidences of God’s grace did you see? What reminded you about the greatness of God and frailty of man? How did you sin? How quick were you to repent of sin? What gospel conversations—even with yourself—did you have? These are just examples. You can write as little or as much as you like but reflect on the day and remember what God has done for you through Christ.

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