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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

A Word from James: Patience

by Marilynn Chadwick

We count as blessed those who have persevered. (James 5:11 NIV)

"Better not pray for patience," a friend once warned. "The Lord will be sure to send you some trouble!" I'm not sure I agree with her theology. Rather, I believe tough times come because we live in a fallen world where hardship and pain are simply a reality.  

Jesus himself warns, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). James reminds us that if we persevere—holding up patiently under trial—we will be blessed. Happy. Fortunate. Even joyful (James 1:2-4). 

The word patience translated, makrothymia, comes from two words which mean "long" and "anger." A patient person is "long-suffering" as opposed to one who gives in to hasty anger. James encourages us to observe the farmer as an example of patience: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7,8).

I have to confess I'm not eager to walk through circumstances that build patience. Be honest. How often do you see the words patient and happy in the same sentence? But God promises to transform our hard places into places of joy. Christians who have suffered persecution in dangerous places tell of how God gave them supernatural patience and even joy right in the middle of their afflictions!

My friend Ange's family was torn apart during the Rwandan genocide. When fleeing from the soldiers, she became separated from her husband Emanuel, not knowing his whereabouts until they were miraculously reunited after eight long years of searching for each other!

When I asked Ange how she survived, she answered, "I stood on Romans 5:3-5. God promised me that I could rejoice in my sufferings. Perseverance produces character, and character hope." "And hope," she added softly, "does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:5 NASB). 

Perhaps we could learn a lesson from believers like Ange who follow Christ in hard places where persecution and hardship are a daily threat. As we look at their patience in the face of suffering, let’s take heart from their example and learn to stand firm in our own trials.

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