Patience Pays a Fine Reward
IN THIS world dishonesty, injustices, oppression and other unfavorable circumstances abound. As a result, many people become highly incensed. Faced with a distressing situation, they tend to become impatient, wanting immediate relief. But what is really accomplished by becoming angry or impatient?
Surely our becoming disturbed or impatient will not change the world or remove human imperfection. As long as this system continues to exist, there will be troubles and problems. By getting ourselves unduly upset about this time and again, we can actually hurt ourselves. We can become unhappy and may eventually ruin our health.
The wiser course is to follow the counsel of the Christian disciple James: “Exercise patience . . . Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, exercising patience over it until he gets the early rain and the late rain.”—Jas. 5:7.
When it comes to needed rain, the farmer cannot control matters. He can plant and try to keep the cultivated field comparatively free of weeds. But his worrying about rain will not help him to have a better harvest. Undue worry could, in fact, rob him of a measure of strength and joy in doing his work. So the farmer simply has to show patience.
When it comes to patience, God’s ancient servants set a fine example. The disciple James, after giving the illustration of the farmer, pointed to the faithful prophets: “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah. Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”—Jas. 5:10, 11.
The prophets who were sent to the nation of Israel often encountered unfavorable response. The Bible tells us: “Jehovah kept warning Israel and Judah by means of all his prophets and every visionary, saying: ‘Turn back from your bad ways and keep my commandments, my statutes, according to all the law that I commanded your forefathers and that I have sent to you by means of my servants the prophets’; and they did not listen.” (2 Ki. 17:13, 14) Besides facing unresponsiveness, many of the prophets were reviled, physically abused and even killed. Because of this shameful record of mistreatment, Jesus Christ could speak of the capital city Jerusalem as “the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her.” (Matt. 23:37) Still these prophets remained faithful to God, patiently enduring persecution.
Did their patience bring a reward? Yes. Above all, these prophets maintained a clean conscience before God and men. They had the joy of knowing that their service was pleasing to Jehovah God. And, though now dead, they live from God’s standpoint, as it is his purpose to resurrect them. (Rom. 4:17) They will see fulfilled toward themselves the words spoken to the prophet Daniel: “You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”—Dan. 12:13.
As the disciple James wrote, the case of Job well illustrates that the Most High has tender affection for those who endure patiently. Jehovah expressed his love for Job by acknowledging him as his approved servant. To Job’s three false companions, he said: “You men have not spoken concerning me what is truthful as has my servant Job. And now take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job, and you men must offer up a burnt sacrifice in your own behalf; and Job my servant will himself pray for you. His face only I shall accept.”—Job 42:7, 8.
Jehovah showed not only love but also mercy toward Job. In his compassion the Most High offset the calamity that he had allowed Satan to bring upon this faithful man. And, although Job, according to his own acknowledgment, failed to glorify his God to the full, he was shown abundant mercy because of his repentant attitude. (Job 42:2-6) The Bible reports: “Jehovah began to give in addition all that had been Job’s in double amount. . . . He blessed the end of Job afterward more than his beginning.”—Job 42:10-12.
Even if a person were not to experience a complete reward for his endurance during this lifetime, as did Job, he would not miss out on Jehovah’s blessing. He still has the prospect of a resurrection to life under righteous conditions. It was firm faith in this reward that enabled many in the past to remain loyal when their lives were threatened. Says Hebrews 11:35: “Men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom [some compromise], in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” Because there is a resurrection, absolutely nothing can prevent a person’s being rewarded for patient endurance.
Besides being certain of a future reversal of all unfavorable circumstances, the person who patiently puts up with unpleasantness even now experiences rewards. He preserves a good conscience and is happy that he is doing what is pleasing to the Creator. Also, his keeping himself restrained when provoked can prevent violent quarrels. As Proverbs 15:18 states: “An enraged man stirs up contention, but one that is slow to anger quiets down quarreling.”
But what is the secret of remaining patient under severe stress? The disciple James posed a similar question and then gave the answer. He wrote: “Is there anyone suffering evil among you? Let him carry on prayer.”—Jas. 5:13.
By appealing to Jehovah God for help, we ‘throw our burden upon him.’ As to the result of doing this, Psalm 55:22 says: “He himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” Study of God’s Word, coupled with prayer, gives us insight as to the reason things are the way they are in this present system. This enables us to avoid needless upsets about things that cannot be changed. Furthermore, by means of his spirit, Jehovah God brings back to our minds points we have considered from his Word, giving us the spiritual comfort we need to exercise patience under difficulty. Should the problem intensify to the point where the situation appears hopeless, Jehovah may use his spirit to motivate others to come to our aid. As long as we rely upon him, we can be certain that he will never allow us to experience spiritual ruin and to lose out on the reward of patient endurance.
May we, therefore, continue to exercise patience in a lawless world. Thereby we can preserve a good conscience before God and men, quiet down quarreling, maintain joy despite unfavorable situations and avoid ruining our health because of our becoming unduly disturbed about matters that we cannot change. Then, too, we can look ahead to the marvelous prospect of endless life under righteous conditions. Truly, being patient pays a fine reward.