So I promised this yesterday, but I'm just now getting time to write today. Maybe you thought I forgot, but I really just wanted to help you all practice patience. (No, I'm lying, I really just didn't have time.)
I think patience in life is really just the ability to wait in trust and hope. Now let me make this clear: I hate to wait. Absolutely despise it. I don't like waiting for anything, whether it's major or minor. I don't even like how long it takes my hair to grow, or how long it takes to lose weight. If I decide I want long hair and to drop a size, I want those things immediately.
It's easy to blame my impatience on society. Technology seems to make things faster and faster. Remember dial-up internet? How annoyed would I be if I had to wait for that now? Not to mention, I now have a smart phone, which means I can be on the internet, with information at my fingertips, all day long. How did people live when there weren't cell phones, email, and airplanes? Everything must have been so slow. And my guess is that people were a lot more patient.
I know what it's like to wait. I know what it's like to wait for healing, to wait for a new job, to wait to meet someone you can share your life with. I know what it's like to pray for those things to come and to grow more and more discouraged when nothing seems to be happening. I've never experienced it myself, but I know others who have experienced the pain of waiting to get pregnant and have a baby. I am in no way suggesting that anything I say on this blog will make that waiting easier, and I hope no one thinks I pretend to have all the answers. I really don't. I think patience is very hard to master, and that the only way you develop it is to spend a lot of time waiting. That's why it's a risky game to pray for patience - God will, indeed, provide you with opportunities to practice waiting.
So because I have nothing wise to say on the subject, I'll let God's Word do the talking instead. Meditating on these verses that I've memorized over the years is my fix-all when I'm having a hard time being patient. My hope is that they will be helpful to you as well, if you find yourself in a position of waiting.
"But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right - everything. Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones." Isaiah 30:18
I love that verse. Don't you love the thought that the reason God is taking so long is that He's gathering strength to really bless you? Like, His blessing will be so huge that He wants to take the time to do it perfectly because He loves you that much! I love it.
"Wait and trust the Lord. Don't be upset when others get rich or when someone else's plans succeed." Psalm 37:7
This is a hard one for me. When I'm waiting for something specific, it's even harder to be patient when I see others around me who keep getting what I want. Before I got married, I really wanted to get married, and while my relationship was ending, everyone I knew seemed to be getting engaged. It's so hard not to become bitter in those situations, especially if you have been really patient. But if we can remember that God sees all and is in control, it can be a little easier to accept. We can't see the whole picture, and reasons why it might be better for us not to have whatever it is we're waiting on. In my example, I am so grateful God didn't give me what I wanted! I wanted to marry this other guy, and I had no idea that God had someone much better in mind for me - Samuel! Like I said in my wedding vows, I'm so glad God's dreams for me were bigger than what I had for myself. Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. (Any Garth fans out there?)
"God, the one and only - I'll wait as long as He says. Everything I need comes from Him, so why not?" Psalm 62:1
Literally everything I could possibly need comes from God. Life, breath, abilities, love. He knows what I need more than I do, and if I can remember this, it makes it easier to wait on His timing.
"Wait...for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always!" Psalm 131:3
I think I've mentioned before the I have a love affair with hope. When all I can see is rain and clouds and hurt, I still have hope, and in my opinion, there is nothing better. Maybe sometimes God lets us wait just so we can experience that hopeful anticipation of His blessing. We will always have hope, as long as we trust God.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12
Ah, there it is. That one just about sums it up. We can be joyful because we have hope, and we can practice patience when we are afflicted. Meanwhile, we can be faithful in prayer, which draws us closer to God. Awesome.
I don't know why we have to wait, and I don't have all the answers. But I do know that when we have to wait, we learn to persevere, and when we persevere, our character grows, and when our character grows we get even more of my favorite thing - hope. How radical is that?
"There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!" Romans 5:3-5
It's not easy for me to be patient, and I still don't like to wait. But if I can focus on all the things I gain by waiting - character, virtue, blessings - then I can wait with a better attitude. And slowly, little by little, my patience will grow. And that's the whole point anyway, right?