Learning Patience the Hard Way

Patience is nothing that we enjoy! Have you ever wondered why things cannot be instantaneous when so much in life already is? We have instant coffee, instant meals, instant banking, and so forth and so on. Now, I can log on the net and do all my banking in an instant! It is incredible how fast our society runs and how quickly we expect things. Now my personality runs in that way like the world. If I have to wait longer than a minute or two on hold on the phone or for my French Vanilla Cappuccino at TIm Horton’s, I’m seeing red!

But even in thinking through things from a Christian perspective we demand instant success. The health and wealth movement thinks that as soon as you are a believer a simple prayer of faith makes God instantaneously bring about financial success! Or, there are those in the Wesleyan movement for instance that believe that one can attain instant sanctification instead of going through the grueling process of the battle with sin in the Christian life. Why does God want us to learn things over time than in an instant?

I will be leaving today to drive down to Pennsylvania to pack up my fiance’s things and move them all up here to our new home in St. George. I am already feeling impatient! And I have felt that way through our relationship. At my age, when you find the right person, you don’t want to wait any longer! July 26 cannot come soon enough! Also, through almost all our time together I have been searching for where God wants me to be in ministry. It was in the 11th hour that He answered it and brought me to Slavic Gospel Association. What is He trying to teach me?

First, He is trying to teach me that time is meaningless to Him. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” God is completely outside of time. He is not affected by time. It has been said that the past, present, and future, are present concept to Him all at once. He knows the past and the future as if they were the present. We live in a quick fix, instant society, but God lives in timelessness. In that timelessness we have to be willing to work on His time, not our own. Patience is something He is teaching us through his timelessness. In the end, remember that all we do here on earth is but a blip in the timeline of history. We must have an eternal mindset and know that only what we do for an eternal purpose in life will truly matter later.

Second, He is teaching that patience is an evidence of a godly life. Galatians 5:22-23 in that fruit of the Spirit section tells us this. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” As beleivers we should recognize that we are to be patient as a reflection of God’s work in us. Quick tempered impatient people are not people who are pursuing godliness the way they should. A fruit of the work of the Spirit in the lives of the believer is patience. So pursue patience as a reflection of the work of Christ in your life.

Third, He shows us that patience effects much! The Scriptures are full of teaching that patience effects much in our life. We can do much through patience that we could not do through impatience! Proverbs 25:15 reads, “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” The idea here is that patience can win over people and accomplish things that could not be done in an instant.

For instance, part of my ministry with SGA is fund raising. It is easy to get impatient with churches and individuals hoping they will support the ministry right away. Sometimes it takes time to work with individuals to bring them where you want them to be whereas an immediate demand for a response would have brought resistance. Be patience practically because it brings much reward!

Finally, God wants us to be patient because He is patient with us. In our sin God does not judge us as He should, but instead is patient with us, enduring much on our behalf. Romans 2:4 reads, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” God is patient with you in your sin. You deserve death each day for your rebellion against Him, but he allows you to remain on earth. He is patient so you too must be patient!

So, thank God that He does not do things for us in our time but does it in His time. For His time is always best and it is for our good. So much of what we have today in our instant society makes us selfish and demanding. Instead, learning patience, no matter how hard it is, will be something that changes us and continues to conform us to the image of Christ who is the most patient man who ever lived enduring in patience with our sin, the cross for our salvation. Praise the Lord the Christian life is not easy and that we must endure much in order to teach us patience!

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