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Grant Me Patience, Now!
What is patience? It’s the ability to wait for God’s timing.

Are you a good waiter? I guess the real question is whether you are patient. I admit (confess) my patience is not always what it should be. While standing in the express line at the grocery store I have caught myself counting the number of items in the basket of the person ahead of me. Woe betide the scoundrel who sneaks 16 items into the 15 item line! I've never gone further than counting, but in my mind I was teaching the customer basic sign-reading and counting.

With the speed information travels these days, it's little wonder we have difficulty with patience. The president of Uzbekistan sneezes and the producers of wall-to-wall news coverage build a complete program around it and establish a website for further information. And I don't even want to talk about "road rage."

I have to confess, I become impatient with God too. Sometimes the phrase "the Lord's timing" is Christian code for "I'm not sure what's happening but I wish God would do something soon because I can't stand waiting."

Recently, I checked up on God just to see what He was up to. It involved a situation where I realized everything was out of my control and therefore had no other choice but to turn it over to the Lord and let Him handle it.

I did that...for a year.

Not knowing exactly how things were going, and succumbing to my natural curiosity, I stuck my nose back in. What a mistake! The former state of trust and peace erupted into angst and anger. I almost lost my nose it was so bad! Lesson learned; intrusion confessed and forgiven.

It's not easy for us to understand "the Lord's time" because He works in the context of eternity. Time is our way of understanding the passage of a day. But Scripture reminds us "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Peter 3:8). For our mere human brains, that's not a concept easy to understand. We seldom see a hundred years let alone 1000.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It's also an attribute of God. Sprinkled throughout the Old Testament are the words from Psalm 86:15: "But you, 0 Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." And we sing those words as we prepare to hear the Gospel. "Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (LSB/Joel 2:13).

If Almighty God wasn't patient, none of us would be here. Think of all the times He put up with the sin of His people. Think of all the times He patiently watches our sinful actions and, through the Holy Spirit, brings us to repentance and forgiveness. As the holy and righteous God, He has every right to punish us by zapping us into eternity, but He doesn't because He loves us so deeply. His "steadfast love" sent Jesus to be our Saviour, taking our sin, dying our death, and ensuring our resurrection and eternal life in heaven.

Patience and faith go hand-in hand. I can't imagine how Abraham must have felt as, over three days, he had to face the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. That's a lot of thinking time. And Isaac was concerned when he realized his dad hadn't brought along a sacrificial offering! But Abraham knew the Lord was at work. He had faith that God would provide the lamb. The patriarch could have brought one along "just in case." But he knew the task given him by His God. And he followed through, patiently trusting in the compassion and faithfulness of the Lord.

Paul writes: "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1).

Part of that sacrifice is giving to the Lord our constant need to know, to understand and analyze. We're in a relationship which defies rational explanation. We like to think from our doctrine, confession and theology that we understand God. But how do you understand the Infinite? We live by faith. We walk by faith, knowing that despite our impatience, God is always at work, always looking for that which is best for us, always acting compassionately, lovingly and faithfully.

Ian Adnams is the editor of The Canadian Lutheran.

Originally published in The Canadian Lutheran, November 2007.

 

 
 
 
 

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