A good friend of mine died this morning. Her painful battle with cancer over the last few years has been a constant reminder that our hope is in the resurrection at the future reign of our Lord. While this is a blog on all things jacobean, the apostle Paul every once in a while gets it right!
Λογίζομαι γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξια τὰ παθήματα τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18 NIV).
I find it interesting that Paul compares our “present sufferings” with the glory to be revealed in us. After all, in human experience it is pain that often makes the deepest impression on us in our lives. The abuse we suffer at home or on the playground can scar us deeply, and the misery of illness can wear thin the thickest shield of faith. Yet all of this present suffering is nothing compared to the glory revealed in us at the resurrection. James calls his readers to faithful endurance while waiting for what Paul called the “glory to be revealed” at the coming of the Lord.
Μακροθυμήσατε οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἕως τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου. ἰδοὺ ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδέχεται τὸν τίμιον καρπὸν τῆς γῆς μακροθυμῶν ἐπ᾽αὐτῷ ἕως λάβῃ πρόϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον. μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (James 5:7-8 NIV).
In this passage James likens the coming of the Lord to the arrival of the rain in Palestine. As a farmer waits for the rain, we are to wait for the “reign” of Christ. The farmer, whose livelihood and survival depends on the proper timing of the rain, is still subject to the timing of things. He can do nothing but wait patiently. We, who often don’t realize it but also depend wholly upon the “reign” must wait patiently as well. We are to endure faithfully, but we do not endure without hope. Our wait should be tempered with the reality that any suffering we endure is a shadow of the intensity of an eternity under the righteous rule of the Savior.
My thesis is dedicated to Sandy who no longer has to wait for the reign. May its words teach me and perhaps others to pray with Elijah-like fervency for the coming reign.