Patience - Just A Little Bit Longer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 25, 2013 0 comments

Quite possibly the biggest test of patience I had in my life as a youngster was the 3 or 4 days out of each year that I would go deer-hunting with my dad and brother. I wasn’t really into the actual shooting of the animal. In fact, I only killed one deer in about 7 years of hunting. I agreed to go each year because I loved the idea of being in the woods and seeing animals, including the deer, in their natural habitat and often unaware that someone is out there with them. The problem with my thinking was that it’s not uncommon in hunting to sit there for an entire day, sometimes in the extreme cold temperatures, rain, wind, or snow, and not see a single furry creature. I’d look at my watch thinking I had been sitting there for several hours and find out it had only been 30 minutes!

One particular morning, however, I learned a valuable lesson at the expense of my younger brother. He and I were both junior hunters (under age 16) at the time and were each positioned about 100 yards away from my dad to each side of him. We could each see our dad from where we were sitting, but not each other. It was a cold day and we weren’t seeing much of anything, so our patience was wearing thin. Around 11:00a.m., my brother decided it was too cold for him to continue sitting in the woods and walked over to my dad to tell him he was going to walk back to the camp. When he then came to me to ask if I wanted to go back with him, I said “yes”. I wasn’t feeling cold at all, but I was bored out of my mind! I mean seriously, what teenager wants to sit and stare at the same trees over and over again all day? Now, I would probably enjoy that kind of down time. But as a teenager, I needed more excitement. My brother and I walked down the mountain and back to our camp and just as we were arriving, we heard a shot in the vicinity of where my dad was. An hour later, he came back to the camp dragging a trophy 8-point buck. He proceeded to explain that he shot it at about 80 yards from his stand, and only about 20 yards from my brother’s stand! The deer likely knew that a human being was nearby and only began to move when he figured the person had walked away and wasn’t coming back. So, my dad reaped the benefit of his patience and my brother’s impatience!

Patience goes against just about everything that is natural for us, especially when we have all the time in the world to think about our unpleasant situations. In my opening story, if my brother could’ve just resisted the temptation to give in to his feeling of being cold for just a little bit longer, something else may have spooked the deer to move toward him. If I had chosen to resist my feeling of boredom, I may have reaped the benefit of my brother leaving because my dad would’ve likely let the deer come to me. The problem for us as humans is that we never know when our waiting will produce positive results. It could be tomorrow; it could be 20 years from now. On top of that, we have an enemy making us question God’s goodness.

James, the brother of Jesus for whom a book of the New Testament is named, knew all about the importance of patience. Most scholars agree that James was the earliest of the New Testament books to be written, given that our Bible does not list them in chronological order. James addresses his letter to some of the first Jerusalem believers who have been scattered throughout the Roman Empire because of intense persecution. In James 5, he encourages the believers to be “patient until the Lord’s coming” (v. 7a). The reason for this specific type of urging is that the Christians had already suffered so much for the sake of their faith. Most of their worldly treasures had been taken away and the only thing they had left to give them any hope was their knowledge that Christ would return and make everything new. At that point, it had been some 20 years or so since Jesus was crucified, buried, raised again, and welcomed back to heaven by the Father. So, you can imagine how greatly the persecuted believers’ patience was being tested!

James uses the example of a farmer who diligently does his work in planting and then waiting patiently for nature to run its course and yield the results of his labor (v. 7b). After pointing out the common example, James writes, “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (v. 8). I want you to think about something. Was James correct in saying that the Lord’s coming was “near”? His letter was written around 49A.D. It’s now almost 2,000 years later and unless I missed it, Jesus has yet to return. But I still submit to you that James was not wrong. The word “near” in that sentence is intentionally subjective. The challenge for all believers that James is implying there is to be patient for just a little bit longer, because what we’re waiting for is just around the corner. If a persecuted Christian can resist the temptation to throw in the towel just a little bit longer, and can take that same attitude each time that he is tempted, the eventual result is that perseverance becomes the habit, not the exception to it.

Brothers and sisters, it works the same way in the battles we face on a day-to-day basis. If your goal is to lose weight and exercise, the initial discomfort of the lifestyle changes is going to try your patience because the results will not happen right away. Just focus on being patient a little bit longer and I promise you the momentary discomfort will fade away until your new habits are firmly planted in your lifestyle. The same goes for anyone out there struggling with addiction. Even if you have all the desire in the world to quit whatever it is, the discomfort of the change will make you want to give up. I urge you to persevere in patience for just a little bit longer and God will reward your faith. For anyone having their patience tested in ways I have not mentioned here, the truth is the same. No one can tell you when your “near” will actually happen, but God promises to reward your perseverance. So, no matter what you’re facing, I urge you to hold on to your faith and be patient for just a little bit longer!