Who likes hearing this word? I know I certainly don't. What is it about waiting that makes us cringe? Most of us, (if we are honest with ourselves,) suck at being patient. Whether it's in a line at the grocer or for God to move on something we've requested, waiting (or being patient) is among our least favorite things to do.
Apparently God is a comedian, because He's put particular importance on patience. Great! One of the things we like to do the least is one of the things He pleasures in most. The Bible isn't ambiguous on this. If it is impossible to please God without faith it is just as impossible to really love Him (or anyone else) without patience. It is, afterall, the first law of love (See 1 Corinthians 13:4).
If you're like me, whenever I try to impose the discipline of patience on myself the outcome isn't pretty. It starts with frustration. This usually starts with me getting ticked off with just the idea of having to wait. After this first stage of my impatient tantrum, I usually start to get frustrated with everyone and everything included in the waiting proces - including myself. But that isn't the ugly part, really. Things take a turn toward the ugly when frustration gives way to me trying to force things and make them happen. You do the same thing, right? C'mon! It isn't just me!
When I try to force things I always make a mess. I almost always wish I had let patience win over my frustration. But, how do we get there? How do we get to a place where we let patience win?
Patience is a fruit - a proof of the Spirit's presence in us. This is the good news in all of this! Patience is not a fruit of our own spiritual awesomeness. Instead, it is a byproduct of God working in us. He must produce it in us. We can't do it on our own.
Letting patience win starts with openness to the Holy Spirit. Letting patience win is actually letting the Spirit win, and that victory starts long before the test of patience even surfaces. We have to come to terms with the truth that it is His power in us that makes things happen and not our own.
When we lean hard on the Holy Spirit, we find something special in waiting. We learn to observe the process that plays out during our periods of patience. Abraham's faith grew during his long wait for his promised son, Isaac. David developed deep relationship with God while he was on the run from Saul, waiting to become king of Israel. Jesus grew in favor with God and men while working in the carpentry shops of Nazareth, waiting for His ministry on earth to begin.
There is always something special in the waiting period. In fact, the word of God says that we are perfected by the work patience does in us (See James 1:4 ). When we learn to listen intently to the Spirit of God within us, He reveals precious epiphanies, truths, relationships and experiences through our periods of patience! When we lean on His presence, patience becomes more joyous. When we are open to Him, we become enthralled with the experience of the process and less aggravated with the drudgery of waiting.
I really believe this is what Isaiah meant:
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, the walk and don't lag behind.
- Isaiah 40:31
So, this week let's meditate intently on patience. Let's make a point of looking around while we're waiting - whether we're waiting for a slow download or waiting for something in our prayer lives. Let's commit together to take a look at what's going on while we're waiting. If we take our time and count on the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, I'll bet we'll find some pretty incredible discoveries!
Here are some questions to consider this week. Hopefully these will help fine tune your focus on patience:
- What have I asked God for, or what has God personally promised me?
- Has He called me to be patient for the thing I've asked Him to deliver?
- Have I been trying to force God's hand or rush the outcome that I want?
- What kind of results do I get from rushing outcomes? Do I get what I ultimately have prayed for by forcing things?
- What opportunities to grow and learn might I have missed as a result of my impatience?