By Mitch Kim
Recently the LORD has been teaching me about patience. I wish that he would hurry up. Those who have seen my driving may also hope that He hurries up! Joking aside, though, I am realizing that the command to make disciples (Matt 28:19) takes time. Specifically God has reminded me, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the LORD” (James 5:7). What does this mean?
First patience is not passivity but patiently engages the work of ministry. Farmers are patient but not passive (James 5:7); they don’t sip coffee while watching their plants grow. They actively water their crops, protect them from pests, weed, and help them to grow. Farmers cannot cause plants to grow, but they di create environments for plants to flourish. Similarly with people; we cannot cause them to grow, but we can create environments for them to flourish. We water people with prayer and sow the seed of God’s Word. We protect them from pests and weed wrong thinking. And we need to stay engaged in people’s lives until we see fruit blossom in their lives.
Patience also refuses to grumble, but patience grows deeper (James 5:8–9).We often blame others for our situation and rob ourselves of the chance to grow deeper. So James warns, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged” (Jas 5:9). About fifteen years ago, the Lord convicted me of a condescending attitude toward the church where I served, internally grumbling at people. Yet God slowly convicted me that “he who loves his dream of a community than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter.” I realized that my dreams of what a church ought to be prevented me from loving the church that was before me. Only when I stopped grumbling about the people in the church could I grow deeper and truly love the people.
Finally patience remains steadfast; James 5:11 says, “Behold we consider those blessed who remain steadfast.” Recently we were praying for the sick at a Wednesday prayer meeting, and one man prayed, “Though their outer man be wasting away, may their inner man be renewed day by day!” (2 Cor 4:16). While I knew this verse I did not expect the deep power and conviction with which that prayer was prayed. I talked to that man afterwards and learned that he suffered from chronic pain but had learned to pray this over himself. His experience with chronic pain grew the steadfastness of his soul, so that he could pray with such strength and connection. He was, indeed, blessed! What a blessing to see the fruit of steadfastness.
In this way I am learning (slowly!) the blessing of patience—not being passive but actively engaged with people, not grumbling but growing deeper, and steadfast in the face of challenge. May each of us do the same.