Today’s Sunday School lesson on Knowing and Following the Will of God was on the topic of “Wait.” This, without a doubt, was the hardest lesson of the 12 part series.
James 5:7-11 “Courageous patience”
7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. 8 You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. 11 Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
This was one of the scriptures contained in the lesson. I struggled with this. This obviously is about waiting for the return of Christ. “Courageous patience” was the title of this pericope in my Bible, The Wesley Study Bible, a Common English Bible translation. Waiting, obviously does not mean doing nothing. How can you consider a farmer’s work anything except labor? He may wait for the rain, but he’s doing an awful lot of other work in the meantime. And his work does require faith that God will do the part that is entirely beyond the farmer’s control. So to tell me that I must do so, too- strengthen my resolve, steadfastness, and endurance- sounds like a rather active, engaged posture. Keep on doing what you’re supposed to do with the expectation that God’s part, which is entirely beyond my control or responsibility, will come when God’s timing is fulfilled.
Our conversation about this lesson had nothing to do with end times and Christ’s return. We are attempting to discover God’s will in the here and now, in the daily decisions of our own lives. I find myself regularly engaged in situations in which much of it is out of my control and beyond my responsibility. Yet I have work that I must continue to do while awaiting that which must be initiated by God or others. The hitch in the get-along comes when there are others who are NOT doing their part, but instead have an agenda that seems to be clearly outside of God’s will. How do I wait with patient resolve, steadfastness, and endurance in such situations?
As I pray and meditate, God seems to give me insights and reasons to continue to push through what appear to be obstacles that are not coming from God, but from other sources. It becomes hard, believing that I am pursuing godly goals, finding it necessary to continue moving forward and not simply waiting passively when others seem to have determined to sit down on the job and do nothing!
What makes patience “courageous” if not the responsibility to stay engaged with God in prayer and with the situation in active perseverance in order to decide when to push forward and when to sit still. And when God has not given one the freedom to sit down, one must keep moving forward with the line of questioning, the action at hand, the resolve and steadfastness toward that which God has already revealed.