Our Lord’s Coming as Our Incentive to Patience in Suffering
“From thence [Christ] shall come to judge the living and the dead.” So reads the Nicene Creed of 325. Our Lord’s Second Coming is proclaimed throughout the Scriptures; indeed, the early Church lived in the expectation that it would occur in their day—and so should we.
Or at least that’s what James thought: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.” Waiting on the Lord is a theme that runs throughout the Bible (Lamentations 3:26; Isaiah 40:31). But here the waiting is for a specific event which shall put an end to all our suffering. The Second Coming of Christ is THE event we await on God’s Church Calendar. And we must never doubt it though millennia pass. It was 2000 years between our Lord’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) and our Lord’s first advent. We must likewise be patient.
And there are benefits to our waiting that affect our lives in the here and now; namely, it helps us to abide the sufferings of this present life. As a silly example, we might take the child who knows Santa Claus is coming in just a week. There are many mishaps he can overlook within those seven days because he is looking to the coming of Santa, reindeer, and most of all, gifts under the tree. Indeed, he might even be a good boy while he waits! It’s not the best analogy, but the point is that when we expect our Lord’s coming any day, it impacts our lives for: 1) Holiness: as we want to be pure and blameless when we meet him (1 John 3:3); 2) Patience: as we learn to overlook slights and the sins of others. Why should we care? We have a great holiday coming. How easy it is to forgive when I’m focused not on the sins others commit against me in this world but on the glories of the next; 3) A non-judgmental attitude: as we realize that the Judge is coming, the only One who can and will set all things straight. The Father has given all judgment over to the Son, and his judgments will be right (John 5:22, 27); 4) Establishing our hearts: Waiting is hard work; long and difficult days go by. There are times weeks seem like years. But for those who learn to wait, not doubting but in hopeful expectation of the Lord’s return, the hearts of these are established, meaning that they are unmoved by the world’s thrusts and arrows. They are like trees planted by streams of water which yield their fruit in season, which leaves do not wither. They prosper because they are established (Psalm 1:3). James then offers Job as an example of such patient waiting but there are many others. Establish your heart for the coming of the Lord—and wait.