While it seems apparent that waiting is a given in this shadowland life, by the grace of God we do have a choice in the midst of all our waiting. We wait for lots of things in life don’t we… the little problems and frustrations, the massive, life-changing matters and for everything else in-between. So if we have to wait, the big question is: “How will we wait?” Will we wait with fear, anger, doubt and impatience or learn from God Himself how to wait well? Will we choose to BE Patient and therefore grow in character in our all our waiting?
Learning how to wait well has been one of the key lessons God keeps teaching me as I grieve for Beth and one day I hope to share with you in more detail. But this week, please join me in delving further into our verse of the week. It comes from one of my very favorite chapters in the Bible – Romans 8:24b-25
“Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
I am waiting on God for some pretty big stuff – as I suspect you are too. I don’t know about you, but the patience required to wait faithfully for all God has promised has often alluded me. So where does all this patience that is commanded come from? (Remember the command in Psalm 37? “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”)
Years ago, I remember a joke about patience and prayer that was going around. Do you recall the woman who supposedly said; “I earnestly prayed and sought God for patience – and He gave me twins!” The expression ‘The patience of Job’ is often used when describing someone who has a great deal of patience throughout a trial. Our family uses another expression – ‘The patience of Valerie’. (Valerie is a lady who showed our family extreme kindness and patience, a dear lady who has nursed her severely disabled daughter for 22 years.)
From what we could observe, Bethany waited well and was very patient throughout her ordeal. As her mum I know that this was not a natural trait she was born with, but one granted to her supernaturally and developed in her by the Holy Spirit of the Living God.
I am sure you have already guessed the common link that ties these people together – the secret of their virtue of enduring patience.
Our brother, the Apostle Paul, says it best…
“…but we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance (patience), and perseverance (patience) produces character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5
How did all these people attain the patience they needed not only to endure their trials, but also grow in Christ-like character? They waited on God in the very midst of all their suffering for His very power and the gifts they needed in order to wait well. They even rejoiced in their sufferings and let suffering do its work because they knew eventually these trials were going to lead to amazing good!
Patience is a gift of the Holy Spirit, one of the fruits of the Spirit that our loving Father has poured into our hearts when we are united with Jesus Christ. (See Galatians 5:22.) But like any spiritual gift, the gift of patience needs to be exercised and put into practice. Friends, being patient and waiting on God to fulfill His promises cannot be done without His enabling. Yes, it is our choice whether or not to wait on the Lord, trust His character and thus open up the way for Him to give us what we need. But never forget that it is all initiated and fulfilled by Him. Our waiting draws out in us the kind of faith that is pleasing to Him. This then leads to a transformation of our character to become just like His Son. But it all begins with the unconditional, everlasting love of God that we are invited to partake in. If your head is spinning around with these concepts, it helps me to think of it like a circular equation…
THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST + WAITING ON HIM IN TRIAL = THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT POURED OUT (INCLUDING THE VIRTUE OF PATIENCE) -> TRANSFORMATION OF CHARACTER ->JOY AND HOPE ->WAITING ON GOD AND EXPERIENCING HIS LOVE POURED OUT AGAIN AND AGAIN…
When we are SO tired of waiting and our hope is waning, may God in His love and mercy empower us to BE Patient through all kind of suffering. May He help us to join with His waiting heart in the shadowlands. Remember that He came to us physically and experienced the depths of the shadowlands so that He could take us by the hand and lead us safely Home! Let the ache in our hearts for Him (the ‘godly impatience’ we now experience, which is an echo of His ache for us) beckon us Home. Hear Jesus whisper to your broken heart today, “I have come for you, now hurry up and come to me My precious one – I can’t wait!”
A quote to inspire you:
“Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”
C.S. Lewis Shadowlands
Songs to encourage you:
Soon and Very Soon by Brooke Fraser
Wait by Sons of Korah
A book to build you up:
Shadowlands by C.S. Lewis