James 5:7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!
The apostle James is writing to a Christian community that is suffering from persecution. As such he’s trying in this letter to both encourage the believers to carry on and give them hope their suffering won’t last. “Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” We see a similar theme through some of the letters of the apostle Paul in which he implies the Lord is coming – any day now.
I understand the impulse to tell people the end of their hardship is just around the corner. But of course we know the Lord did not return quickly as expected. 2,000 years later we are still waiting. Interestingly in some of Paul’s later letters you can discern a shift in his expectations. It would seem Paul eventually realized that Jesus was NOT coming very soon, or even in their lifetimes.
In a similar vein, I think most of us expected our Covid problem to be temporary, over in a few weeks or months. We now realize this is not the case. While some things may go back to what they were, many will not. And it’s not always easy to discern which is what. However, as was true of the Christians receiving this letter from James, we know that our Lord walks with us every step of the way – no matter what our future brings.
Lord as we navigate an uncertain future give us grace to persevere in the faith. Amen.