July 09, 2012
Written by Daniel Hazard

James 5:7–8

"Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth . . . You also must be patient."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

Patience is a virtue that I find easier to commend than to practice.

When I was a kid my mother used to exclaim, "You go at everything like you're killing snakes," which I am pretty sure was a way of saying I was short on patience.

Over the years I have wondered if God called me to ordained ministry primarily to teach me patience? Things do seem to move awfully slowly at times in the church, don't they? And then there are all those trying people to learn to be patient with. I love John Updike's wry quip, "A healthy adult male bore each year consumes one and half times his own weight in other people's patience."

The word "patience" comes from the same root word as "suffering." Part of God's suffering with us and for us is God being patient with us. To understand patience as a form of suffering rings true to me. Patience can be tough. It costs us something. And it is of God.

But I'm not sure the real lesson I've learned from the church is about being patient with other people (though I hope I have learned something of that). What I have really learned is that God has been plenty patient with me. Remembering how patient God has been with me does help me to be more patient with others.


Holy one, grant me grace to discern when is the time for holy patience and when is the time for holy impatience. Amen. 

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.

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