Tuesday 20 August 2019
Waiting for rain
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.
If we were given the choice, we would prefer not to wait for most things in life. Modern technology is developing all the time so that we do not have to wait. Advertising frequently tries to tap into our desire to avoid waiting:
Is your phone slow? Get an upgrade.
Is your broadband speed slow? Get an upgrade.
Are you fed up with waiting for a bus? Get a taxi.
Couldn’t be bothered to spend time cooking? Get a ready meal.
Couldn’t be bothered to go out to buy a ready meal? Order a takeaway.
Yet there are still some pastimes that require patience. Fishing is one example. Watching Test Match cricket is another. And then there is gardening or farming. James gives the example of a farmer waiting for the rains.
In Israel the autumn rains come at a time when the seeds have been planted and they need these rains to begin to grow. Then the spring rains are necessary to help the crops to bear fruit in time for harvesting.
On a dry day before these rains come, a farmer might be tempted to give up at the sight of dry ground and cloudless sky. He cannot see any sign of rain, so he might be tempted to think that farming is pointless. But having knowledge of the rain patterns in Israel would convince him to wait patiently for the rains.
James is encouraging his readers to have the same faith in the second coming of Jesus as the farmer has in the coming of the rains. Our situation in life may be one where things are not going smoothly. Perhaps all we can see is the dry ground of suffering and the cloudless sky of despair. We may be tempted to give up on our faith in the goodness of God.
But just as surely as the rains will come, James is encouraging us that Jesus will come again. It is worth being patient and standing firm, because suffering and despair are not the end of the story.
The timing of the rain is outside the control of the farmer. He cannot make the rain come any sooner, whether by worrying or by the use of technology. In the same way, we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2), but we have the promise from Jesus himself that he will certainly come back.
Are we facing difficulties in life at the moment? What is our response? Are we being patient? Are we standing firm?
Thomas Halley, Sawyers Church Leadership Team