I was just thinking about how much I, like most people I know, enjoy gathering in groups. Most of us enjoy parties, church services, restaurants, and let’s be honest, our youth even enjoy the fellowship they have at school. Given that most people are social beings, this time of isolation – social distancing and sheltering in place – is an arduous journey.
This is a time when many people lose hope. But in the midst of this time, let us not lose hope bur rather set our eyes upon an even more important hope. The hope that comes only through the confidence of eternal life through Jesus Christ and His crucifixion, death and burial, His resurrection and His ascension. That is where the true hope is.
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” James 5:7-11
Patience is in short supply right now as many find themselves struggling with isolation, suffering job security, and battling with loved ones in tight quarters. But we must remember that there are opportunities here to be like the farmer in James 5:7, who doesn’t plant a field and then falsely hope that he will awake the next morning with a crop ready for harvest. He knows it takes time for the crop to grow. Only then can he reap the harvest. We may have difficulty with the isolation as we wait for this all to end, but if we can find the patience of the farmer, we will see that there is a greatness in being with the ones we love, a greatness in discovering rest and peace away from the routine grind, a greatness in the way that God will open doors that will allow us to spread His peace and joy, His love and eternity, to those who are also suffering.
We are reminded in James 5:8-9 that instead of arguing and grumbling and complaining as so many are tempted to do during this difficult time, we are to be a beacon that lets the entire world know there is a light at the end of this coronavirus tunnel, a light that is greater than this virus, greater than our fear.
Consider James’ sentiment in verses 10 and 11 about being patient and steadfast – “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.” I pray none of us suffers to the degree of the prophets, but I also pray we will remain steadfast in our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ. James points to Job, that in all his sufferings – losing his fields, his property, his livestock, his happiness, and, most devastating of all, his family – he remained steadfast.
Yes, the prophets were blessed, and Job remained steadfast, and God is compassionate and merciful. We may not have everything restored during our life as Job did, but God has promised a more meaningful restoration: God has promised us salvation and a life with Him for eternity. That kind of restoration is a light worth shining on the people around you who are suffering through, and without hope in, this pandemic.