“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.”James 5:7-8 ESV
“Establish” is also translated as “strengthen” with the idea of standing firm, unmoved by trouble. We stand firm because “the Lord’s coming is near.” This confident expectation will make the faint heart strong.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about the Lord’s coming, I am both dismayed that it seems it may be forever in coming and excited that it might be this very day. Waiting for the Lord’s return can seem like an abstract idea. But James says that is the basis of our hope, and we must strengthen our hearts. What does that look like?
Rehearse the truth!
Recently our youth pastor was preaching from Luke 18, the first eight verses about praying and not giving up. Matt encouraged us not to lose heart and gave us specific ways to strengthen our hearts. One way to establish our hearts is to rehearse the truth. Knowing and rehearsing the truth can help us stand firm.
There’s actual psychology behind recalling what we know to be true. In education, we call that the spacing effect. We teach students something and then review it. The “10 – 24 – 7” is a particular strategy. Students review newly learned material after 10 minutes and then review critical points within 24 hours. Over the next 7 days, teachers help students continue studying.
The more you remind yourself of information spaced out over time, the better you’ll retain that information. The more detailed the practiced memory, the more likely cues will help you resurrect the memories later.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”Romans 15:4
While we might rehearse any number of truths from scripture to establish our hearts, remembering facts about God is a worthwhile place to start.
God is Good!
We can trust his goodness because God owns everything, knows everything, and is all-wise. His judgments are pure and holy.
One brief summary of the character of God can be found in Romans 11:33-36:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!Romans 11:33-36
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
God owns everything; there is nothing he needs from us. It is He that supplies our every need. Peter writes, “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3).
God knows everything – past, present, and future. God does not learn. He knows all things because He is the origin of all things. He holds all knowledge. The wisdom of God is the ability to take the facts – knowledge – and use them for our best purposes.
God is incomprehensible but not unknowable. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. His ways and His thoughts are higher.
Then verse 36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Don’t miss that excellent progression.
- For from Him … He is our Creator.
- And through him … He is our Sustainer.
- And to him … He is our Completer.
We can lean into God’s character for hope!
Living With Eternity in Mind
A few years ago, I heard the phrase, “living with eternity in mind.” It reminds me of Colossians 3, setting our minds on things above, or Romans 12, not conforming to this world but being transformed. Living with eternity in mind means focusing on the things we cannot see, the things that will transcend earthly time. It is a way to establish our hearts!
When we set our hearts and minds on things above, we remind ourselves that all will be well even amid our culture wars, hostilities, anxiety, and difficult decisions.
Sometimes when studying the scripture, I write affirmations to help me set my mind on things above. Recently, my husband has been encouraging us in our short study of Romans 5 – 8 to identify statements that are true about us because of what Jesus has done. These statements help me to stay in step with the Spirit.
Do you use breath prayers, affirmations, or rehearse a specific set of truths from scripture? What routine do you use to realign yourself with the realities of God’s Word daily?
Father, you who created us and redeemed us,
Would you now establish us so that we stand firm
Waiting patiently for Your return–
For the consummation of our redemption,
For the New Heavens and New Earth —
Fuel our hope, Father.
And may our hearts be shaped by eternity –
With that same joy that radiates from You, dear God,
So that in every way, our lives bring Glory to Your Name