Nov 21, 2012
This morning I was on hold on the phone, waiting for someone to help me.
I had lots to do. The clock was ticking. And I wanted someone to answer — NOW.
But there I was. Waiting … and waiting … and waiting.
Without much patience.
How is patience possible?
Patience means responding to delays with peace and contentment.
But how can I feel peace and contentment when there’s a delay of something I want?
The only way this happens is if I know the delay is going to bring something I want even more.
Let’s say I want a promotion. And my boss says the promotion will be delayed for a year — but if I am willing to wait — the delay will double my salary.
Would I feel peace and contentment — patience — during that year delay? Um — yes.
Because the delay will bring me something I want even more than the promotion — double the salary.
But how does that work when I’m on hold?
Or — when Johnny has disobeyed for the fifth time today?
Or — when you are longing to be married and another year goes by with no prospects?
Or — when you want to get pregnant but nothing”s happening?
To be patient — we need to know that these delays are going to bring us something we want even more.
So — how can we know that?
Because God has promised
Look at what God promises in Jeremiah 29:11 —
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
The Bible teaches that God’s plans cover every part of our lives — including the delays (Psa 31:15; Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28; James 4:15).
So Jer 29:11 is saying that every delay we face is lovingly planned by God as a way to bring us great good.
What is this great good?
God tells us in the next line of the promise —
Then you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. Jer 29:12-13.
So the great good is that we will find God, which means experiencing more of Him.
This is the best news in the world — because our highest joy is found in knowing, beholding, and worshiping God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
This is no cliche. Through faith in Christ, God will give you times when you are so satisfied in Him that you don’t want anything else. This is taught in Psa 4:6-7; Psa 16:11; Psa 73:25-26; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Phil 3:8.
So every delay is lovingly planned by God to bring us more all-satisfying joy in Him.
But how does this happen?
How do delays bring us joy in God?
It doesn’t happen automatically.
It only happens as we humble ourselves before Him, surrender to His timing, trust His promise to be our all-satisfying Treasure, and seek His face.
As we do that — we will have times when we so feel God’s presence — so see His glory — that we are completely satisfied.
That’s why we can be patient with delays — because we know God has planned them to give us even more of His all-satisfying joy.
So what’s happening when I don’t feel patient?
If God promises that He has lovingly planned every delay to bring me more all-satisfying joy in Him — then why am I not patient?
It’s because at that moment I’m not trusting God’s promise.
Either I am not trusting that this delay is lovingly planned by God (maybe I think it’s random, or that God is punishing me).
Or I am not trusting that this delay will bring me all-satisfying joy in Him (maybe I think getting off hold will be more satisfying, or getting married will be more satisfying, or having children will be more satisfying).
So what causes impatience is unbelief — I’m not trusting God’s promises.
So how can I become patient?
It’s by fighting the fight of faith until I once again trust God’s promises.
Here are steps that have helped me —
- Come to Jesus as you are, trusting Him to help you (Luke 18:13-14). Don’t try to make yourself feel patient first. Come to Jesus as you are — and He will change you.
- Confess to Him your unbelief, ask Him to forgive you through the Cross, and receive assurance of His forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
- Ask for more of the Spirit’s work to strengthen your faith in God’s promises (Luke 11:13). You can’t change your own heart. But He can. So ask for His power to change you.
- Set your heart on God’s promises, meditating on them and praying over them, until you know that God has lovingly planned this delay to bring you more joy in Him, and you feel Him as your all-satisfying joy. Here’s promises I use — Gen 50:20; Psa 31:15; Jer 29:11-13; Psa 4:6-7; Psa 16:11; John 6:35; Phil 3:8; 1Pe 1:8.
- When this happens — your heart will change. You will see delays as ways God is going to bring you even more joy in Him. And you will feel peaceful and content — patient.
Thoughts? Comments? Feedback?
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful —
Facing a Trial? Jesus is the Super-Piling
A promise for when you are tempted
Will-power vs. Spirit-power
Asking Why? Here's God's Loving Purpose For Every Trial
(Picture is from everystockphoto by jppi.)