Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 6, 2018
You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. James 5:8 (NRSV)
Patience is something we struggle with culturally. We live in the age of instant gratification and think that waiting is always to be avoided at best or at worst something we must endure. So when we read the call to patience in James 5, our first thought may go to the feeling you have of flipping through outdated magazines in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Yet surely this isn’t the kind of waiting James invites us into, is it?
In the Bible, patience is never a passive experience. Patience in the Christian life is active preparation for the coming of the Lord. It is similar to the kind of patience required of a farmer who eagerly awaits the harvest. Much of the farmer’s life is spent in eager anticipation of a future day. Yet months and months are spent gathering supplies and preparing the land, not to mention the ongoing care and cultivation of a healthy crop. It is for good reason that Jesus frequently used agricultural imagery to help us understand the spiritual life (e.g. Matthew 13:31-32).
James invites us into a life of intentional and active waiting. Specifically, his charge is to “strengthen our hearts” as we expectantly look for the Lord’s return. Take advantage today of the many ways in which we find our strength renewed. Strength comes through acknowledging our weakness and dependence upon God for life and sustenance. We find strength through his renewing grace and goodness. Consistently seek the Lord through a faithful life of prayer, Bible reading, and communion with other believers.
Our hearts are made strong through the gift of community and life lived in renewing relationships with others. A life lived in isolation is a sure recipe for spiritual weakness. Take the bold risk of being known and inviting others to see your true self. Pursue ways of living that bring you out of the shadows and remove the ability to hide the parts of our lives we’d prefer to keep secret. Healthy relationships give you spiritual strength and endurance.
Find a healthy balance of the active and contemplative life. Give yourself to intentional and active service of others as a taste of the Kingdom we long for and hope to one day experience perfectly. Yet also be willing to seek the Lord in stillness and silence, finding strength in his word to you.
In these ways and countless more we find strength to move forward and embrace the vibrant and hopeful patience that is at the heart of the Christian life!
Father, help us to wait for you in hope and faith, trusting that you are with us and strengthening us day by day. Amen.
Where is your heart weak and in need of refreshment? How can you take a step today towards strength?
Strength comes through acknowledging our weakness and dependence upon God for life and sustenance. #WisdomHunters #patience
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