Have you heard this little poem?
Patience is a virtue,
Possess it if you can.
Found seldom in a woman,
And never in a man.
While I resist such gender stereotyping when it casts me in a bad light, I find this poem to be pretty accurate. I feel that patience is one of the hardest virtues to live out.
And the worst thing about that is that without patience, we will experience more damage. Maybe you’re trying to teach a child to read, and you grow impatient and scold him for his slowness. Your impatience actually worked against your goal. Or maybe you are planning a vacation. Without the patience of planning your route and your needs along the way, you will be frustrated. Or maybe you are fishing. I am neither a good fisherman nor a good hunter because it takes patience in an area that I have none. James has already addressed patience, indicating that patience comes by tribulations. Evidently patience also comes through choice. Look at his words…
James 5:7-11 (NIV) Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
In this sermon, I try to point out four pictures of patience James has for us to emulate. Which of the pictures resonates with you?