James returns to the familiar theme of patience (James 1:2-4) in his letter to the persecuted Christians who were scattered throughout the region. His readers were, no doubt, experiencing tremendous stress due to fear for their personal safety and this stress was even causing them to become irritated with each other. Instead of giving into the demands of this pressure, James wrote that they should “be patient” as well as “establish your [their] hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (5:8). It is significant to note that the focus of a person experiencing trials should be upon the future return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom. James is almost implying that the best is yet to come so endure the hardships of the present. Stress also has a way of breaking down relationships between individuals so he wrote “do not grumble against one another” (5:9). Many times people take their stressful circumstances out on other people, even those who are close friends and family. James reminded his readers about the Old Testament prophets and Job who both were patient during suffering (5:10-11). They could have turned their stress into anger against God and others, but they chose to remember “that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (5:11b). If we remember that God is good and gracious we will see our times of trial with a different perspective. We know that He only allows trials to come into our lives in order to bring maturity to our faith. James gives a stern warning to those experiencing trials – “do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no,’ lest you fall into judgment” (5:12). Some people tend to make quick promises to God during times of trial, but James cautions them in this matter reminding them that they are obligated to fulfill whatever they promise to God. Trials are no easy thing to endure, but God will make the reward for endurance worth it all. Look forward to eternal life where God will put all things back together and restore peace and righteousness.
Dear God, help me to be patient in trials knowing that You have something beyond imagination in store for those who love You.