We have all heard the adage that patience is a virtue. The Christian is to indeed possess and practice this virtue. Patience is almost always considered from the passive perspective. It calls to mind the mother enduring the constant barrage of questions from an inquisitive child or a clerk kindly waiting for someone to make up their mind when ordering from the menu. The wise mother knows that this phase will pass all too soon and the experienced clerk knows that the shift will end. Knowledge of changing circumstance permits one to remain calm and exercise discretion when dealing with difficult situations. Knowing that time will certainly pass and that judgment awaits provides incentive for the Christian to practice patience. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door (James 5:7-9 NKJV)!
The Christian must also endure difficult circumstance. Not only do we experience situations like the ones mentioned above, we also must face challenges unique to the Christian. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NKJV). Job represents the pinnacle of patient suffering. My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful (James 5:10-11 NKJV).
Patience is learned. Understanding the future God reveals is part of the equation. Knowing how God rewarded the faithful in times past is another part. The rest is learned by experience in the school of hard knocks. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4 NKJV). Anyone whose patience has been tried knows that it takes deliberate effort to control one’s response to the trial.
The Christian life models deliberate, patient and consistent godly behavior despite circumstances. God will render “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality (Romans 2:7 NKJV).” In describing the life of living sacrifice, Roman brethren are instructed to “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (Romans 12:10-12 NKJV).”
To say 2020 has been a trying year would be an understatement. Trials such as those presented this year may tempt us to lose heart or perhaps even to give up. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:9-12 NKJV). Don’t give up.
Be patient in circumstance. Be patient in trials. Be patient in doing good.