A comment on this week’s post about the importance of patience as we learn to be content with what we have – really struck a chord with me. I used to be possibly one of the most impatient people on the planet at times. My time frame was in seconds, minutes and hours. That is when I wanted things to happen. NOW!
When I prayed for God to make Greg pray with me many years ago – I was ANGRY at God when Greg didn’t pray with me that night. And when I prayed for a job for Greg and it took 6 years for him to get an engineering job in town, that was NOT my time frame whatsoever. And when Greg and his dad were working on renovating our house and they said the whole house would be done in 6 months and I (generously) gave them a year in my mind – I was VERY upset when it took 4.5 years (and there are still 3 rooms that are not done and haven’t even been touched. Of course, now I don’ t care if they are ever renovated. I’m totally content with them being 50 years old and pretty imperfect).
I can remember times that Greg would go outside that first year of renovations and he was cutting vines off of the fence in the back yard. I would march out to demand that he stop cutting the stupid vines and go finish the house! How was the house going to be done in “6 months” if he was out here “wasting precious time” cutting vines off the fence??!?!?!
Years later, Greg shared with me, when he was frustrated, he would go cut vines. He needed time to think through things and work through problems and that was how he did it. Ugh. I feel so awful about my demands and disrespect back then. All I cared about was I wanted it all done ASAP!!!!!!!! My timing and what I wanted was all that mattered to me back then. 🙁
I believe God used those years of renovations to teach me quite a bit of patience. I had to learn to live in total chaos, mess, dust and disorder which ran completely counter to my perfectionism and my desire for our house to look “perfect” all the time. I had to learn to be patient when projects took 10 times longer than I expected them to take. I had to learn that stuff wasn’t that important and wasn’t what made a house a home – the people in the house are what make it “home.”
I read James 1 with our children this morning. I never get tired of reading Scripture – and this passage speaks to me so clearly every time I read it:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Trials, all kinds of trials ,test our faith – financial hardships, family trouble, spiritual problems, health problems, natural disasters, people’s sin against us, war, delays, accidents, conflicts, backed up plumbing, work problems, unemployment… All the problems we face are tools in the hands of God to chisel and refine us and to make us more godly and holy in His sight.
Trials reveal our sin. They bring to light our true motives. They expose our deepest priorities. They show our real character.
As we are tested and our faith and character is refined, we develop greater godly character and we develop perseverance.
PERSEVERANCE (from www.dictionary.com):
- steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Perseverance works in us to create spiritual maturity and to equip us to be holy and complete in Christ. These goals are much more important to God than our temporary happiness. He wants us to be mature and complete, lacking nothing in Him. He wants us to be equipped and totally ready for spiritual battle. He wants us to be like Christ.
What trials are you facing today?
My prayer is that we might look at our current trials and rejoice in God about them! Let’s anticipate how God plans to use these trials to lead us to greater Christlikeness and maturity.
1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.
Impatience leads me to so many sins:
- a desire to control things myself and force things to happen “my way”
- anger – which leads to my temper flaring and me losing self-control with my words, actions, motives, thoughts, tone of voice and body language
- lack of faith in God
- lack of gratitude
- pride – thinking my timing is better than God’s
When I am patient, I don’t have to vie for control or try to force things to happen sooner or try to make things turn out the way I think they should. I seek God’s will above my own and I wait on Him in total faith and trust.
Patience is an attribute of God. It is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is also something we learn as we pass through trials and as we spiritually mature. Patience is a huge key to peace. If I am impatient, and I demand what I want NOW, I cannot have the peace of God. I cannot be content with what God has provided for me. I cannot have a thankful, joyful spirit and not have patience. It’s fine for me to desire things intensely – particularly things that God desires to happen – someone’s salvation, reconciliation of a marriage, many to come to Christ, our children to be godly people, etc… But then, we can lay these desires and burdens at God’s feet and wait patiently before the Lord, trusting His sovereignty and His timing to be much more wise than our own.
When I have patience, I am able to joyfully wait on God. I am able to joyfully be content with what I have. I am able to relinquish control, trusting God’s sovereignty. I am able to respect God and my husband because I know that God is ultimately going to work out all things for my good, to make me more like Jesus, so I don’t have to freak out when things don’t seem to be going “right.” I am able to be thankful to God, have a heart full of praise for God and I don’t feel any need to grumble, argue or complain. I wait expectantly before God with great faith and anticipation of all that He is going to do in my life and through this hardship. This brings great glory to our Father in heaven and to Christ as our husbands, children, coworkers, neighbors and family members watch us respond with patience, joy, faith, thanksgiving, praise, peace and contentment in the midst of our struggles and trials – they will be confused and curious and they will want to experience the power of the God who can produce this beautiful fruit in our souls in times of great crisis.
Others will pay so much more attention to our faith and our testimony when we are speaking from the midst of a fiery trial. Our words have infinitely more weight and impact when we continue on in faith, joy, hope, peace, love, kindness, patience and gentleness during our fiercest storms.
What does God’s Word say about patience?
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Proverbs 25:15
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:4-8a
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-13
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. II Corinthians 6