When I was young, my mother often used to say to me, “Patience is a virtue”. I guess, like most children, I was naturally impatient. Even as an adult I have found it hard to be patient sometimes. Prayers seem to go unanswered or promises haven’t yet been fulfilled, and many other areas of life demand that I wait. Waiting, it seems, is a challenge, because our fallen nature says our time frame is the perfect time frame and we want it NOW! Over the years of being a Christian I have had to face this issue. Clearly impatience is not commensurate with the character and nature of Christ, which I really want to be progressively formed in me.
However, over the years, because of my tendency to impatience, I have taken a special interest in verses of scripture which deal with the need for patience. Just recently, while reading Paul’s letters to the early churches in the Amplified version of the Bible, I came to the well know verse, Galatians 5:22, which describes the fruit of the Spirit. The relevant portion of this verse states, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, peace, patience [ not the ability to wait but how we act while waiting]’. Later that day, seemingly to reinforce my thoughts of how to handle the pressure of patience, God led me to read an article which suggested that ‘patience often involves active endurance’.
It was the word ‘active’ that caught my attention. This is a vital key in growing in patience. We need to be active while we are waiting. But doing what? Patience can seem to demand passivity, leading to negative feelings of helplessness and frustration. But, although we might agree it is not easy to wait for what we passionately desire, it is definitely not a time to become passive. We need to be active, focussing not on the slowness of the outcome or on trying to push away our desire, but instead actively focussing on God’s faithfulness and honestly bringing all our doubts and frustrations to Him in prayer.
This is where we need to be active while we ‘endure’ (what seems to be) the gap between our timing and God’s perfect timing for the outcome. Activity drives out the dangers that come with passivity. Passivity breeds vulnerability and helplessness, a void into which flows the temptation to turn to another activity - anxiety. We need to be actively focussing on Father God and His absolute faithfulness and loving kindness towards us and be confident that our Father has heard our heart cry and has the perfect timing in His hands. This leads to the true peace of active waiting, which is patience.
Pondering on these thoughts about waiting with patience, reminded me of our Labrador dog and the way he dealt with waiting. He could often be seen lazing in front of the solid fuel kitchen range, with his nose sometimes touching the hot doors, and totally relaxed. To any visitor he seemed passive and ‘switched off’ to the world with no particular desire. But nothing could be further from the truth. Should anyone in the family mention the words ‘walk’, ‘boots’, ‘coats’, or indeed any other associated words, he would instantly jump up and be totally alert, leaping to be the first in the queue at the door. He was not passive, but waiting with patience, never anxious, always believing that the moment would come, enjoying the relaxation while he waited, actively enduring the delay, but never less than ready for the moment of fulfilment of his desire. Oh, to have that sort of patience in all situations and even in tribulations!
Prayer: Dear Father God forgive me when I allow myself to get anxious and fretful while I wait for You to answer my prayer in times of troubles or to fulfil Your promises to me. I choose to keep my eyes focussed on You as I wait for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, I ask it. Amen.
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