“They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31 ESV
We’ve all heard the prayer: “Lord, make me more patient—and do it now!” Of all the spiritual virtues, patience is one that tends to be troublingly elusive. Let’s face it; if patience is a virtue, most of us are not very virtuous. It’s flat out hard to wait.
Think of how you feel when you’re late for a critical engagement and caught in a traffic jam. I find it tough when I’m in a hurry and rush to the “10 items or less” line at the grocery store, and then have to wait while the guy in front of me pulls 16 items out of the basket and casually chats with the clerk. How did I know it was 16 items? I counted them, piece by piece!
When life or people don’t measure up to our expectations, being patient can be quite a challenge. But it’s clear that God wants us to develop this character trait. After all, patience is more than a virtue—it’s a fruit of the Spirit. It reflects His very presence in our lives, for He is a patient God. If He weren’t, we all would have been annihilated long ago.
So what’s our problem?
There’s a good probability that our struggle with patience has been unsuccessful because we’ve been trying to focus on our own agendas and timelines and not trusting that, for reasons best known to Him, God may have a whole different schedule for us. Our propensity to live with a short fuse is all about forgetting that God puts us in His waiting room on purpose, because He is often doing something behind the scenes while we wait.
It might be as simple as teaching us to be more concerned with the struggles and feelings of others rather than being totally taken with our own interest and plans. There is plenty of evidence as well that God interrupts the normal flow of our lives to open unusual opportunities to be used of Him in unexpected ways. Or, it just may be that God wants to give us the opportunity to show what His patience is like by demonstrating it to others.
One thing we can be sure of—God’s time is always the right time. His management of our situations—whether in traffic or in the “ten items or less” line—is always the best management. Patience is not learning to wait for others; it’s learning to wait on God and to cooperate with His work in our lives. Next time impatience begins to stress you out, stop and ask God what He is saying to you; ask Him to show you why your expectations and schedule have been hijacked. Then take a deep breath and trust. Trust that He is at work in you and in the situation.
So, the next time you have to wait, “wait for the Lord”!
- What kinds of situations make you impatient?
- What are you waiting for right now?
- What are some ways that God might be working in your situation while you wait?
- How has God caused you to better understand patience today, and what will you do to develop this important trait?