Life is full of waiting. But we’ve gotten pretty used to getting what we want at the snap of our fingers, (or the click of a button.) The world’s solution to the problem of impatience is usually not to develop patience, but to eliminate as many situations that require it as possible. We live in an Amazon Prime world; we can have our order on the doorstep in one day; we open an app and receive instant entertainment, advice, and news. We can track down to the minute how quickly our coffee order will arrive on our doorstep. To be human is to DAILY battle with impatience.
Patience in the Waiting
We may be able to eliminate the wait for our coffee, but when it comes to the big things, waiting is required: healing for a family member, salvation for a friend, or that relationship, job, or college acceptance that everyone else seems to be finding. And it can be difficult for our minds to understand, because isn’t God more powerful than Amazon Prime?
If you’ve ever prayed persistently for God to heal, repair, redeem, or move in a certain area of your life, you have probably realized that our requests aren’t always granted immediately. You may even start to feel that your prayers are going unheard. I’ve felt this more than I’d like to admit. Maybe you have an important decision to make, and you aren’t sure which direction to take. I’ve experienced this too. No matter the case, waiting can be hard and confusing. (But don’t stop reading here.)
The Perfect Patience of God
Beginning a new year can feel momentous – like all that waiting in the previous year will resolve at the strike of midnight. We compile lists for our self-improvement and self-care, and we set pretty high expectations. But take a breath and pause with me for a moment. The path to patience is not a hopeless one. One thing is for certain, we simply cannot get away from the patience of God. God’s patience with us is an expression of his love. Patiently he is working all things together for our good and for his glory.
“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” – 1 Tim. 1:16
Since God is abundantly patient, we should strive to be patient as well. Any time you have thought, “This is harder than I thought it would be” or “This is taking longer than expected,” you have faced the temptation to be impatient. We’re surprised when our desires aren’t granted, and trials aren’t resolved after a round of faithful prayer, but the Bible tells us to consider it JOY when we face trials because trials produce patience. (James 1:2-4) In these times of waiting, we may start to question God’s goodness. But what if the waiting itself is the good and perfect gift?
Waiting makes us cling to God, rather than cling to an outcome. We may not be able to choose how long we wait but have a choice in how we wait. We can either choose to wait patiently, knowing that we have a perfectly patient and loving Father in heaven who knows exactly what we need, when we need it; or we can choose to restlessly strive for a false alternative that will pale in comparison to God’s perfect and right-on-time answer. In the meantime, consider a shift in perspective. As Paul Tripp says, “Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.”
When we are patient in an impatient world, we show the world the One who is patient with us.
Questions for Reflection:
- What is something you are praying for or waiting on right now?
- How has a time of waiting produced patience in you that you may not have developed otherwise?
- What did you learn about God during that process?
- How have you experienced the patience of God in your own life?
Written by: Emily Alters