December 15th, 2019.
“Be Patient Until the Coming of the Lord”
There was a man who was a writer, and an atheist in the 19th century. His name is Robert Ingersoll. He was a famous speaker regarding “atheism,” which means “it denies God exists.” ” One day, when he was about to finish his speech on atheism, he took out his watch from his pocket, and said, “The Bible says that God strikes and kills someone who humiliates Him. So, I will insult His name and give Him five minutes. Let us see if He hits me and kills my soul in hell.”
It was scary and quiet for the first minute. People began to move into the scare mood. Even though the people did not believe in God, they were still scared if God exists. Finally, it reached five minutes, he snapped and closed the watch’s lid and put it back in his pocket and said, “Did you see it? There is no God. If there were a God, He would hit me.” After that, many people followed him with his “atheism.”
How do you think about this story? Does it sound like agreeable with you?
Later, when Pastor Joseph Parker of England heard it, the pastor asked, “well, did the American gentleman think God could only endure for five minutes?” God has no restrictions like what we think. God is going beyond our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” Sometimes, we have time to feel that we pray for something and did not receive any answer from God. Please remember that it does not mean that God does not exist or that God did not answer you. It means that it is not on God’s time, or God gives you answers in the different ways from what you expected. We do not know the time and the way God answers us. Therefore, we need to pray and be patient until God answers us. While we are not impatient rushing ahead to work out quickly, God is waiting longer and going in His way.
Let us learn about God from the Scriptures. While God could create all things at one time, according to Genesis, God did it for six days. While God could be able to rescue Israelite from Egypt for a shorter time, according to Exodus, God made them wait for 400 years, and God trained Moses for 80 years in the wilderness for the plan of God. Furthermore, while God could send Jesus earlier, God waited for 700 years to send him into the world after the prophet Isaiah prophesied of the virgin birth of Jesus.
Many people believed that the Lord would return before 2000 in the last 20th century. However, the Lord did not come yet. The delay of his return does not mean that he has broken his promise. There is only one reason that God loves us so much. The First Letter of Peter 3:14-15, “Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” God is waiting for salvation of the people in patience.
Our lives are a continuation of waiting. Therefore, we must live waiting for a good day to come, remembering God’s patience. The end of our waiting is the coming of Jesus Christ. The reason we wait for Jesus’ return is that we believe that Jesus is our savior and that we believe that he will bring hope, joy, peace, and love into the world. And, it is because we have a conviction that the judgment of justice is done on that day. Furthermore, it is because we believe in resurrection into the eternal life.
In the Scripture of today, the Apostle James says, “Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord” (5:7a) The Apostle James gives us examples such as formers and prophets. These examples provide us wisdom on how to wait.
First of all, let us learn from the patience of farmers. As you may know better than me about farmers, they have to wait for rain, sunlight, and the time for the fruits. The Apostle James says, “The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains” (5:7b). The reason we have to wait is to get the precious fruits. Even though we give our plants good soil and pull out bad weeds from around the plants, there are many things beyond our control.
Of course, nowadays, we can give our plants water instead of waiting for rain. We can also provide plants proper temperatures with excellent technology. We can get fruits that we want in any season because of great technique in the 21st century. However, farmers have to wait until they have crops after they planted. Farming requires much patience. Fruits do not grow overnight. Farmers concern about weather, rain, sunlight, and time because these are out of their control. Farmers can do it in their best with what they can. The farmer sows seeds and waits for them to sprout. While the farmer waits, God works to grow seeds from behind the stage. God creates conditions in the right way and at the right time to the final harvest.
God wants us to learn from the farmer’s waiting. We are spiritual farmers. As the farmer is patient with what he cannot do as he wishes, we also must pray when we faced with a situation that we cannot do for ourselves and endure until God works for us. I hope you will be ready to wait for the Lord’s coming. Be patient for the time of the Lord.
The other example the Apostle James gives us is to learn from the prophets. Verse 10 says, “As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” The time we need to endure is when the people around us, such as our spouses, children, boy/girlfriends, or parents, are not changed. You have to endure a long time when you see no change. The Apostle James tells us to learn the suffering and patience of the prophets.
What is the duty of the prophet? It is to bring people back to God. That is to change the attitude of people toward God. However, people do not want to hear the right words. They closed their ears to the words of prophets. Furthermore, they persecuted the prophets with ignorance and contempt. None of the prophets had had any suffering.
We are the prophets of God who spread out the words of God. One of the things we need to know about people is that the character of the people is never changed. They may improve only their viewpoint or goal. The thing non-Christians change to Christians is that it does not mean they changed their nature of the character, but they change their viewpoint or purpose. If we know this, we will be less disappointed and less hurtful. So, if you want people around you to change, please help them to find a vision or goal. And then, they will change their lifestyle toward their vision or goal eventually. Finally, it means that you need to wait with patience until God works for them.
If we try people to change, we upset them, argue with them, and finally, fight with them in anger. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Do not forget the reason you want to change your people is that you love them and live with them in harmony. The First Corinthians chapter, 13:4, says, “Love is patient.” And, in 13:7, “it [love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Therefore, to love is to endure. Harmony belongs to people who endure.
I encourage you to endure until you are in harmony with others in Christ. Especially in the season of Advent, may God bless you could be patient until the coming of the Lord, learning the patience of farmers and prophets.
Thanks be to God, Amen.