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. (Jas 5:7-8)
These words would be good advice for the ones that are being oppressed. James has talked about those that are oppressing people, thinking they can get away with it. They don’t resist because they can’t.
When God came down to see the suffering of Israel he said to Moses that He had “heard the cry” of His people and sent Moses to deliver Israel. We sometimes don’t realize how the suffering that we go through helps to build our character. James started out the book saying that we should count it all joy when we meet trials. Israel surely fit this category. However, so did the people (the poor people) that James was writing to. The Lord hears your cry.
It is often the case that we think of ways to avenge injustices; in today’s society fighting against the rich or “da man” is not a new activity. But, if I understand the scriptures correctly, our envy of the rich people will not help us in the least in our service toward God. Contentment, even in (especially in) poverty is what we should be able to achieve should God bring that economic status our way. Improve yourself if you can, but fighting (and especially in the courts) over someone who is oppressing you should be a very carefully considered action.
James is telling his audience to be patient. Almost as if to say, “the Lord will repay” and we need to wait for the Lord to bring about his plans in their own due time. In their patience they are to do one thing: Establish their hearts. Once again, turning back toward the responsibility that an individual has to mind their own business, James says ‘establish’ your hearts. Build it up, secure the foundation, and make it a fortress in service to God. Whatever comes your way, you will press on and not faint. The good news is: The Lord is at hand.
Much has been written about what James had in mind when he said, the Lord is at hand. Did he mean the second coming, did he means Jerusalem’s end (70 a.d.), did he mean their own death and going to be with the Lord, or did he simply mean that the Lord was always near to them? Except for the 2nd coming (Which will happen but no one knows when. I figure 3025 a.d. to be a good year and if I am wrong, well I will be in good company. 🙂 ) any of these could have been his meaning and yet, the Lord is still near to us today in the later two ways.
We should never forget that our journey and any sufferings or pleasures in it are fleeting, though for the moment they may feel as if they will last forever. Be patient. Endure. The Lord is at hand. He will protect your soul, if not your life, and the soul is more precious. Think like that.