Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. NASB
It is clear that James was written exclusively to Jews—“to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (Ja. 1:1). James was exhorting them to be patient, without complaining, as they were no doubt suffering under the hands of the rich (vv. 1-6). He was telling them to have hope in His coming as they endure mistreatment. He told them that just as the farmer waits for the early and latter rain (early rain in Oct. and Nov.; latter rain in Mar. and Apr.) to help the crops grow and to bring harvest, they must be patient and endure the rain of trials by the rich, in order to produce in them good character for His coming.
We are not given specifics as to what phase of His coming is referred to here; therefore, since it seems to be a general statement of His coming, I think we can apply it wherever it fits. For those who are part of the believing church (Jews and Gentiles), His coming would be the rapture. But for those who miss the rapture but are saved during the tribulation, His coming will be when He comes immediately after the tribulation—which will be very visible and spectacular. Matthew 24:27-30 describes this event.
“For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, 30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
At this phase of His coming He comes to gather together His elect (Matt. 24:31), to bring them to safety and into His kingdom; but He comes also to judge all unbelievers, and to hold them for further judgment at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15).