Have you ever prayed for patience? If you haven’t, don’t try it! I’m kidding. It turns out that when you pray for patience, God typically doesn’t just give it to you. Instead, you will earn patience through a series of events that will try your patience. I don’t really have patience when I see things that need to be done. I start doing the work to get it done whether it’s the right time or not. There are times when my wife has to make me stop and wait to do things. I’d rather do them right then and get the satisfaction of completing the task than to wait. I’m also competitive, and with that comes comparison. If someone else is doing more, working harder, completing tasks or succeeding where I think I should be, it drives me to push forward without rest. I easily lose sight of the bigger picture, and I forget that patience and steadiness bring success and blessings.
I don’t think Abraham and Sarah were very patient either. When God made the promise that he would be the father of many nations, Abram was 75 years old. When his wife didn’t immediately get pregnant, I’m sure He doubted God, or did what we do when we run out of patience, and took matters into his own hands. Because they didn’t wait for the promise, Abraham got another woman pregnant thinking that he was doing God a favor or enacting His plan for Him. It was 25 years after the promise that he had Isaac through his wife. If he thought he was too old to have kids at 75, imagine what he was thinking as he approached 100. Yet, because God told him to wait for the promise, he did.
Psalm 37:7 says, “Be patient and wait for the Lord to act; don’t be worried about those who prosper or those who succeed in their evil plans” (GNT). I love that this verse speaks to our focus. Quit looking at what other people are accomplishing, and thinking about how you wish you were farther along at this point in your life. Be patient and wait for God’s timing. There’s a greater blessing for us when we do. Put your focus back on being faithful where you are, doing the little things, and God will reward you in due season. I know how hard that is, but it is the right thing to do. Even though you may be able to act now, be patient. God is using this time to prepare you for the blessings that are coming so that when His time is right, you won’t squander what He gives you.
Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.
Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle if you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.
Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.
We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plenty. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”
If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored had he not delayed. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I’ve always heard that patience is a virtue, but in today’s world, it’s a virtue too few want or have. Just recently I needed a part for my car. I called around to all of the parts stores looking for it. Each one said that it would take about a week to get it. When they asked if they should order it, I said, “No. Amazon has it and can get it here in two days.” I don’t have the patience to wait a week when I can get it in two days. The fact is, I didn’t want to wait two days so I was trying to find out where I could get it same day.
It’s one thing to be impatient for things we want, but when that same impatience affects our spiritual life there’s a problem. While technology has sped up the process by which we get most things, it has not decreased the time to receive spiritual things. Those still require the discipline of planting, watering with prayer, and reaping. Spiritual discipline requires patience that today’s fast moving world isn’t used to. There’s no technology that can make things happen faster in the spiritual realm.
In Psalm 40:1, David wrote, “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry” (NLT). The Message interpreted this verse as, “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked; finally He listened.” There are times when we have to wait for what seems like forever to hear back from God. It requires patience that today’s world doesn’t produce. It requires stick-to-it-iveness and lots of prayer. You can’t go on Amazon and bypass God to get what you want faster.
Spiritual discipline is what we need today more than ever. We have to push past our desire for immediacy and have patience for the process. There’s more going on that just you saying a prayer. Daniel 10 gives us insight into what goes on when we pray. Principalities are fought in the spiritual realm that require us to have patience and to keep praying. We have to learn to pray until we’ve prayed through rather than praying until we’re through. Yes, patience is a virtue that worth having in today’s impatient world, especially if we are going to pray for something.