We live in a fast-paced society where it’s “my way, right away.” We get impatient if a driver is going 45 in the left lane on the interstate. We get impatient if a person who goes through the 10 item express lane puts 13 items on the belt. We get impatient with the neighbor whose dog barks all night long.
Even Christians say, “Lord, I want patience, and I want it right now.” But the biblical idea of longsuffering (patience), is that we can go a long time before we erupt. We can absorb a lot of irritants without exploding. Think of patience like oil in your car. It doesn’t remove the contaminants. It just puts them in suspension so they don’t get into the engine and cause it to seize up.
Are you able to do that? Are you able to put the irritants of life into suspension? Or do you have a short fuse?
So that’s how we should deal with the irritating and annoying little things in life. But what about the bigger things, like real injustices, or abuse? How do you handle those?
And so tonight, in James 5, we’re going to look at patience in suffering, patience in the big trials of life. The context of this passage is that James, the half-brother of Jesus and pastor of the Jerusalem church is writing to poor Christians who’ve been abused. But he gives them reasons to be patient in suffering.