Patience: James 5:7-12.
- Definition: the ability to persevere through life’s trials by trusting in God’s good and sovereign will.
In life, there is natural delay between planting and harvesting; sowing and reaping; immaturity and maturity.
To begin, it’s not easy for humans to endure. Especially in the “I want it now” generation. Most of our lives, we’ve spent it with “Are we there yet”s. The Bible is filled with stories after stories of people waiting-for clarification, things to get better, circumstances to change, God to answer their prayers, etc.
Most of life is spent in the waiting room. Most of life is in the wilderness before the promised land. Most of life is in the grind.
Greek word for patience: long suffering/ability to suffer longer.
Biblical patience: rooted in trusting that God is ultimately in control and out for our own good.
There is a difference in no and not yet.
Tantrums are thrown in a single moment. Even if God were to try to explain in that moment, we wouldn’t be able to handle hearing it or understand what he was doing in that moment of our great pain.
Opposite: self-pity. “My will be done, not His”. Self pity is a heart that says God has given up on me. Woe is me. Out of self pity is where resentment, despair, anxiety, etc. exists and grows. ie. Waiting for school to be over, waiting for a spouse, etc.
There are two choices when you’re in the waiting room: trust self or trust God. Trust self meaning my will, my circumstances, my timing, my way.
God is never in a hurry. God has an agenda and timing, but we start pushing the agenda because we grow impatient of waiting.
God is not in the business of giving us what we want, when we want. He is in the business of making us more like Him.
ie. Lazarus’ body started to stench because he had already passed (four days into death) then Jesus raises him. It was intended all along because the waiting allowed for us to see a dead man rise. If there was no waiting in the process, it would have just been a healing of a sick man.
There is a purpose in that pain to show us a greater growth.
Counterfeit: wishful thinking. “Oh, God’s putting me in the fire because he has something better waiting for me.” On the surface this might seem as if it’s rooted in faith, but in reality it is waiting for something we want to happen or could happen.
The heart of true patience: “This really sucks, but have it Your way.”
The heart of counterfeit: “This really sucks, but I know You’re planning for something bigger in a couple years for me.”
One is rooted in God and the other is rooted in self.
If you are unsure which heart you have, the litmus test: how much do you compare yourself to others in your waiting? How do you compare yourself to others?
ie. How do you feel when you see fb notification of your friends getting engaged? Or when someone who is less experienced than you gets the promotion? How do you react?
It comes from an entitled heart: God, you owe me this (things I want and my desires are at the forefront).
Q: How then do we become like Christ?
A: The only way to learn and take suffering is to suffer for a long period of time. God is patient with our shortcomings and trusts us to take care of his Bride.
We think of patience as a passive action, but everything in the Bible tells us that it is proactive. To endure, to persevere, to put a fight up.
Application: create a 3 section chart, label past, present, future. In the past, think of all your blessings and all the things you’ve learned as a result of the things God has not yet answered. In the present, what is God teaching you today in your waiting. In the future, read Revelation 21:4
We meditate on the past to remember God is sovereign and good. We meditate on the present to pull us out of self-absorption into a reflection of what God is trying to teach me. We look at the future reality to hope. Get in the habit of knowing what the future hope and reality look like so that this current suffering and wilderness is something we can endure.
Trust that God will make all things new and good.