“As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend, I brought my broken dreams to God, because He was my friend. But, then, instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone, I hung around and tried to help, with ways that were my own. At last, I snatched them back and cried, ‘How can you be so slow?’ ‘My child,’ He said, ‘What could I do? You never did let go.’” – Lauretta P. Burns
I am personally convinced in my own heart and spirit of the fact that attending God’s school of patience is a requirement of all believers. I told the Lord the other day, I said, “You’ve been trying to teach me patience but I wish You’d hurry up.” The ability to calm our soul and wait before God is perhaps the most difficult thing in the Christian life. When God makes a promise, Faith has to believe it, Hope has to anticipate it, and Patience has to awaits it. Patience means never giving up on God’s promises. There is a saying that, “Patience is a tree whose root is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” One of the hardest things we face in life is what seems to be God’s delay. But God’s delay does not mean His denial.
When waiting for God to do the supernatural, we must be very careful not to try and do the natural. Sometimes, in our haste, we may end up doing the wrong thing with good motives. Our old nature is always in a hurry and restless. Our world is hurrying frantically around us. I’ve learnt from experience that a restless heart leads to a reckless life. Surely it can be painful and difficult to wait for the slow unfolding purpose of God in His time, but it can even be much more difficult and painful if we don’t. God is never in a hurry to carry out his promises, He rather makes all things beautiful in His time.
God made a promise to Abraham that he would have a child by Sarah. But after waiting several years for this promise to be fulfilled, both Abraham and Sarah became impatient and felt they had to do something to help God out. Sarah suggested to Abraham that he could have children through her Egyptian maid – Hagar. Regardless of how selfless Sarah tried to be, regardless of how much she wanted to take the blame for not having children, it was the wrong course of action. Both Abraham and Sarah were at fault by choosing to follow the cultural norm. The only person who was not at fault was Hagar because as a slave, she had no authority and did as she was told.
Ishmael came about (through Hagar, the slave woman) as a result of Abraham and Sarah doubting God’s promise. I am convinced God allowed Ishmael to be born and to be a large nation so that they may be a constant rebuke to the children of God for their unfaithfulness to Him. As a result of Abraham and Sarah trying to improve on God’s promise over 3000 years ago, the whole world right now is standing on the brink of disaster. Abraham was put on hold for 25 years. He went through all kind of temptation, but the promise God made to him was fulfilled after 25 years when Sarah bore Isaac, the son of promise.
Sometimes in our eagerness to change our circumstances in our way and time, we don’t see how God is working in so many fronts all at the same time so that the blessing can be revealed and his purpose be fulfilled. John Nelson Darby back in the 1800s once said,
“God’s ways are behind the scenes, but God moves all the scenes which He is behind.”
It is the temptation of all of our hearts to take things into our own hands, that we want things to be settled our way, that we be in the driver seat, to be in control, and not to wait for God’s timing. But falling in such temptation does not honour the God who knows you by name. You can make the clock strike before the hour by putting your hand there, but it would strike wrong. You can tear open a rosebud before its time but you will mar its beauty. Even so, we may spoil the many gifts God has prepared for us because of our haste, but if we patiently wait upon God, God’s plan and timing is always perfect.
James tells us (in James 5:7-8) that like farmers who patiently waits for the precious fruit of the earth in their season, we also must patiently wait for God’s timing. If a farmer keeps on digging the seed every few days to see how it is doing, he would never harvest. While the farmer is waiting for the harvest, He continues to work hard in preparation for the coming harvest. In the same principle, working diligently as for the Lord in all we do while waiting on His timing is always honouring to the Lord.
I have to confess that there are parts of the scripture when I get to it, I groan. When I get to Job, I start praying, “Lord help me! I’m going to read through Job,” and yet Job’s endurance motivates me to endure; Job’s patience encourages me to be patient; Job’s waiting on God’s timing helps me and motivates me to wait for God’s timing.
Perhaps there is no greater book about pain, suffering, unfairness, and injustice than the book of Job. The book of Job is all about God not making sense to Job and everybody else. Job suffered like very few people ever suffered. But I want to submit to you that Job greatest pain was that God would not answer him for a long time. Throughout the book, Job looks up to heaven and asks, “Why?”
The sound of silence can be deafening. When God is silent, it is not because He is angry. I have learnt from the Word of God that there are several times when God is silent in our lives. When God is silent, it is probably because He is putting you through his practical training school. When God is silent, perhaps it is because He is trying to teach you something or some truth about yourself that you need to know in your relationship with Him. When God is silent, perhaps He wants to see how you can really trust His words and promises (not just when the sun is shining, but even when the rain is pouring). When God is silent, perhaps it is because He loves you so much, and that He wants you to rest confidently in His love. Sometimes, God waits until we become quiet, so He can speak or work on our behalf. And sometimes, we may never understand “Why” on this side of heaven.
It may take a whole lot longer than you or I want it, but God always keeps his promises. The question we should ask of ourselves is this: Do I meet the condition for the promise? Do I persevere in prayer? Or do I quit too soon? Someone said, “In any situation, picture yourself as a seed that has been planted, not buried.” All those who have accomplished great things for God (as revealed in the scripture) have been put on hold at one stage or another in their lives.
- Joseph was put on hold for 11 years. Joseph’s dream was thrown into the pit, it was tempted by an immoral woman, shattered in the prison dungeon of Egypt, but the dream never died simply because he knew it was God’s dream.
- Moses was put on hold for 40 years. God called Moses to lead the Israelites (the stiff-necked people), out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land. But because of their unbelief in God’s word and promises, God cursed them all to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
- David was put on hold for many years from the time he was anointed by Samuel to the time he became the king. For David, God’s purpose was a throne, but you know what? He would have to go to it by a way of a cross.
- Paul’s God-given dream of going to Rome was put on hold for 2 years while he was in prison in Caesarea.
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
For true believers, Romans 8:28 has been a pillar on which many weary heads have rested. Paul is saying to us this very day that without a shadow of a doubt, God is working ceaselessly and purposefully in all areas of our lives (the bad, the good, and everything in-between) to weave out a beautiful and magnificent tapestry. To the outside world, life may appear to be out of control, meaningless and purposeless. But for those who love God, who are called by God, even at hard times, they can shout with Jeremiah the promise of God in saying: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, they are plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
This good that Paul is talking about in Romans 8:28 will only be worked for those who Love God. During his earthly ministry, Jesus said, “If you love me obey my commandments.” So how do we obey Jesus’ commandment? Not by our own strength, but by surrendering to the Spirit of the living God living in us. Romans 8 tells us that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit of God we can never live an obedient life. We are not saved by obedience to Christ, we obey Christ because we are saved by Christ.
The most magnificent example of obedience is God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who fully obeyed God the Father and became obedient even unto death. And as a result, the Father turned the cross into a crown, death gave way to the resurrection, and the grave gave way to the glory.
The Bible says (in Galatians 5:22) that patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Different translations of the Bible use the word longsuffering or forbearance instead of the word patience. The source of true longsuffering and patience is the Holy Spirit of God. In the original Greek language which the epistle to the Galatians was written, the word used for patience is makrothumia. Makrothumia consists of two words (anger and slow) joined together to make up one word.
In Exodus chapter 34:6, the Bible tells us that slowness to anger and abounding in love are both characteristics of our God. God’s love and anger are like two sides of the same coin. It is all because of God’s love that His wrath was manifested upon His only Son (Jesus) on the cross of Calvary; It is all because of His love that He is angry over sin and with Satan; It is all because of His love that His anger will be manifested one day.
When the people scoffed at the fact that Jesus promised to return and he did not return during the time of Peter. Peter (in 2 Peter 3:9) tells us that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but that all should come to repentance. The motive of true longsuffering and patience is always the glory of God.
To conclude, there is a story said about a boy who appeared to be standing firm while waiting on the sidewalk in the middle of a block. An older man who observed the boy approached and said to him, “Young man, what are you waiting for?” The boy confidently replied saying, “I’m waiting for the bus.” On hearing that, the older man laughed and said to the boy, “The bus stops in the next block, not here.” The boy acknowledges the fact but insisted that the bus will come and stop right in front of him.
The boy’s response was received by the older man as insolence, and in annoyance, the older man raised his voice and said to the boy, “You better start walking if you’re hoping to catch the next bus.” The boy politely turned down the suggestion and insisted on waiting for the bus just right where he was. At this point, the older man was fuming and finally started to walk away from the boy. But before he could get away, he heard the screeching of brakes, and to his surprise, he saw the bus coming to a standstill and stopping right in front of the boy. The boy went onboard the bus and looked out the window before the bus started to move and said, “Hey Mr! My daddy is the bus driver.”
The boy’s confidence was not in the bus, but in his father who was in charge of the bus. In a similar way, we also can be confident while standing firm on our knees as we patiently and faithfully wait on our heavenly father (Abba). Why? Because Faith is not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds the future. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, they cannot be moved, but abides forever.” – Psalm 125:1
Closing Prayer: Nothing is too difficult for you LORD, nothing is impossible for you. Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief! Lord, I know this is another opportunity for me to trust you and to watch your mighty hand at work. Lord, please use this opportunity to teach me, to grow me, and Yes, I know you will bless me in the process. Lord, please take me to the place of obedience and blessing. Lord Jesus, my wandering heart I give to Thee. Lord speak, your servant is listening. Amen.