Patience

Patience stinks. I hate having to be patient for what I want five minutes ago, and my impatience in these times usually leads to me goofing something up and making my wait longer. I am often too impatient to stop and pray for patience. I have often wondered if I was an absolute idiot for praying for patience, and my gut reaction is… yes I am an absolute idiot for praying for patience. I have been warned a million times about the danger of praying for patience, about how it’s “the prayer God hears first, answers fastest and takes advantage of the most.” I have come to the conclusion that praying for patience is the best possible thing you could ever do for your spiritual life. There are many people close to me who are gasping in horror right now because of that last sentence. Don’t worry, I have not gone nuts, just bear with me for a minute.

Patience, for being the biggest pain in the butt, has always proven itself. Take Jacob and Rachel for instance. Jacob loved Rachel so much that he put himself to work for her father for seven years just to earn the right to marry her. I personally would have hated that, and been miserable, whiny, and begged God to make it end. But Jacob had the drive and patience to make it easy. Genesis 29:20 proves that; “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” And that’s not all. Jacob was deceived by Rachel’s father, and once he had Rachel he was made to work another seven years for her father. That’s patience…. and a load of dedication.

God has always rewarded those patient in him. We as believers are charged to wait patiently for the return of our Lord and our patience and faithfulness will be rewarded with immeasurable treasure in heaven. It is also promised that patience and perseverance will serve to grow our faith and improve who we are in Christ. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul says basically that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. So my deduction is that since perseverance in the end produces hope, patience has the same outcome, since, at least to my mind, patience and perseverance require each other. So…. I have to believe that my patience will serve to create in my life an improved character, and ultimately, hope. Sounds like a winner to me!

All this is evident and understood by me, but I still can’t wrap my brain around being really willingly patient. I have been “forced” into being patient by the things that have happened in my life over the past few years. I had to learn to rely fully on God for everything, but mostly for the peace and patience not to go nuts while everything went different ways from where I thought they should. I hated it…. and still do to an extent. I hate the feeling of having no control over my own life and the things I want now and the things that should have happened yesterday. It’s those things I had to give totally over to God. And that’s how patience is bred in a heart, getting to the point of realizing that you cannot control it, and giving it all over to God trusting that his timing is perfect, and it’s not going to kill you to wait on Him. My patience in the last years, although it was a hard road, and incredibly difficult to get to the point of being past my desires enough to be patient, has definitely paid off. I have so much more now than I did when it all started, and my faith and relationship with God is absolutely amazing. It’s still tough, and I still miss some elements of my past, but I’m glad they are behind me, because it opened a huge door for God to take my life and do amazing things. Patience is suffering sometimes, but if we rely on God through it, it will be well worth it. As C.S. Lewis so eloquently remarked, “As Christians we are called first to suffer, service is a secondary project made more effective by the suffering.”

Romans 8:18-27 says; “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by it’s own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from it’s bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

God desires that we be patient and lean on him, and according to my understanding of those verses, God subjects us to the frustration of waiting with the intent of giving us the means to liberate ourselves from our bondage by learning to rely on Him. The whole of creation shares in our frustration, Those who are saved and have accepted our adoption as sons have the frustration of waiting to be with our Father for eternity, and those who are still unsaved have the frustration of a life that is against God’s will, whether they realize it or not. It is amazing that the Spirit goes to God on our behalf regarding these frustrations, I definitely need the backup! I have to believe though, that the Spirit isn’t asking God to make it all stop, but to make it a little easier on us, and give us the means to patience when we need it most. The verses say that the Spirit intercedes only to the will of God, so I know that the Spirit is asking the best possible thing for me.

Patience is unnatural. Patience is painful. Patience is against the will of man. And that is why patience is so important. If we can be patient and wait on God’s almighty and perfect will and timing, and not rush headlong into what it is we want, we will be in God’s will and have been improved by Him in the waiting. God requires that we test his will, that we put every leading to a litmus test of scripture, prayer, and patience. If we assume that every leading we have is God’s will and fly right into it, chances are we are missing his true leading much more than we are following it. This patience in seeking an assurance of his leading and will is perhaps the most important patience we can have, because if we don’t, and what we feel to be a leading from God is actually not from God, we can do so much damage in our own lives and the lives of people around us, perhaps even losing souls by our impatience. If it truly is Gods will, it’s not going anywhere, and He’s going to be there waiting to make it real in your life on the other side. The only benefit to rushing in is the fulfillment of our own desires and selfishness, and nothing of that is ever in Gods will. Patience does not always produce what we want, but it always produces God’s perfection in that aspect of our lives if we are willing to trust his hand through the time of waiting. I hate patience, but it is the very thing I am called to, and God has promised His help through it, and there are amazing rewards at the end of the waiting. And that’s more than enough for me.

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