James 5:7-11

Is there any group of people on the planet more patient than farmers? (Especially if they are also parents of teenagers?) Planning, plowing, planting, pampering—patience personified. And the rest of us don’t just benefit but owe our very existence to them. We eat well because of the willingness of these strangers to patiently bring those crops all the way to harvest. 

So often my interpretation of “patience” has been achieving some Zen-like state of calmness and lack of worry. In this passage (and so many others in the Bible), patience is called for in the midst of suffering. That’s seldom a recipe for lack of worry and feelings of calm. But it is a call to persevere. In our suffering…we count as blessed those who have persevered (vv. 10-11, NIV). Patience often is not calmness. It’s the willingness to commit to an uncertain outcome. 

I love that James mentions Job in this letter. How often have we heard of the patience of Job (v. 11)? In multiple readings of Job’s story, I have never gotten the impression that he was patient in that calm, Zen-like way. But the guy had perseverance and faith in a God who loves, even in an unjust, unfair world. Perseverance.

Because of addiction issues in my family, I attended Al-Anon meetings for a long time. The strangers in those meetings were a critical source of support through my own darkest days. “One day at a time” is one of their tenets. Just persevere until the end of this day. Each evening I would spend a moment of gratitude that I’d made it through another day—my own awkward attempt at prayer. Patience is perseverance, one day at a time.


Who has supported us as we persevered through our most difficult days?


God, thank you for the patient, persevering strangers in my life. Amen.

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