The Reading: James 5:7-11
“… the farmer waits for the precious fruit …” (v. 7) RSV
“Be patient” (v.7) says St James. God’s times are not our times. We are impatient for answers to prayer. We want God to act now and to sort everything out. Ultimately we want our Saviour to come, get rid of sin and evil, suffering and death. We want, in other words, “the coming of the Lord” (v.7).
But James wisely points out that life is not like that. Nature itself teaches us that things happen in their season and not before. We cannot rush the growth of plants or of animals. “… the farmer waits for the precious fruit” (v.7). Of course if the farmer has not ploughed and harrowed, planted and tended then he can wait as long as he likes, but no fruit will ever come.
Patience is required after we have done all we can. God will not bless inactivity and irresponsible super-spirituality. He blesses those who have endeavoured to help themselves.
But we know there are times when having done all we can, and we still cry out for God. “Where are you?” we plead. “Why do you not answer my prayers?” we cry. This is when our faith grows through the exercise of patience.
We need to learn (and it is learning through practice) to contain our souls in patience. The farmer knows that the fruit will eventually come, that is why he is able to wait. We too need to believe that ultimately God, through Jesus, will come. He has promised to provide food and clothing, and all things needful for life. It must therefore grieve his heart when we grumble and complain both to God and to other people. Such lack of faith is no testimony to the God of promises. Let us develop serenity and trust, accepting God’s timing.
Thank you Lord for the wonders of nature. Thank you that the birds do not strive and that the grass grows. Help me to learn from them. Amen.
1 What do we learn from the birds of the air?
2 What do we learn from the lilies of the filed?