When you have to stand in line, what is your attitude like? Be honest! If you’re like me, you probably struggle a bit with keeping a patient attitude. And the truth is, none of us ever chooses to stand in the longest line at the grocery store!
Likewise, have you ever had someone tell you, “Don’t pray for patience because then the trial will come”? But we do want the characteristic of patience displayed in us because our Father is so patient with us. Let’s take a close look at how to cultivate more patience in our lives.
Patience is Related to Time
Time is a big issue today. Most people seem like they are always racing the clock and trying to cram more living into each day. So pay attention to how you relate to time. Usually, we grow more impatient especially when we feel pressed for time. Often time and patience go hand in hand.
But we must remember that even though we live in a place of time, God doesn’t. We are human and can’t help having to live within the constraints of time, but we are also spirit, so we have an ability to live in timelessness. For example, when we’re deep in worship, talking with someone, or having fun, we usually don’t pay much attention to time – we’re just living in the moment. When we’re in God’s Presence, we lose track of time – time doesn’t matter.
On the other hand, we don’t want to ignore time or be irresponsible with it. It’s important that we do things in time and honor time, but we should have an expectancy of God’s agenda and what He wants to do instead of what we want to do.
Patience can only grow when we’re dealing with the constraints or pressure of time. We often tend to get impatient when things aren’t turning out the way we expected. But when we have an expectation, we need to hold it loosely and stay connected with God’s presence because He will fix and rearrange things so that they end up better than we wanted or expected. We must stay in a place of hope and stay in His presence (outside the of the realm of time). We need to be open to His plans instead of ours.
The enemy can steal our joy and steal an assignment or opportunity when we move into being impatient. When we think it’s supposed to look a certain way we can miss the plan or opportunity God was going to give us because we shut it down with our impatience. The minute you begin to feel impatient, remember, “I am spirit, and I live outside of time when I am in the Spirit.” God can speed things up or slow things down – trust Him – He can make all things happen.
Waiting on God’s Promises
Naturally, we are not very patient. We want God’s promises now; we want to see the fulfillment of prophetic words sooner rather than later. God’s word is full of promises that we can stand on; we can remind God what He said and what He promised, but then we need to trust Him for how and when He will bring about that promise. It’s about being in relationship with Him and asking Him for confirmation and direction along the way. Of course, this is easier said than done sometimes!
When God tells us something, we must be careful to live in expectancy, but not necessarily expectation. We press into His promise. At the same time, we aren’t supposed to just sit back and wait for God’s answers to fall out of the sky; there’s also a part we play to co-labor with God, to press into His presence, and to remember that we only have one or two pieces of the whole puzzle. We need to loosely hold onto God’s promise, giving up our vision of what it will look like, and embracing His vision of how that promise will be fulfilled.
Love suffers long, so that means there will be some suffering, trials, and trouble, but we can take heart because He’s overcome the world (John 16:33). When we are suffering because of the waiting, we can press into Him and grow in patience.
Remember Abraham? God promised that he would be the father of many nations, but he didn’t have a son yet. How would this happen? Abraham and his wife Sarah grew impatient and tried to “help God,” but it backfired on them. Finally, after lots of waiting, God gave them Issac, but it was in God’s time, not theirs.
Hannah was barren (which was humiliating for a woman in Bible times). She promised God if He’d give her a son, she would give him back to God. The Lord gave her Samuel, and after she finished nursing him, she made good on her promise and took him to God’s temple where he was raised in God’s very presence. Hannah patiently kept hoping for a child, and she learned that God will honor you when you honor Him.
There are many other examples of people waiting for God to fulfill His promises, but one thing they have in common is the suffering in the waiting. Anytime we are distraught or upset by the difficulties we’re facing or feeling impatient because things are not working out the way we wanted, we need to press into an intimate relationship with God and embrace the difficulty so we develop perseverance and character. We need to declare, “You are God and I am not, and Your timing is perfect.” We need to ask God to help us see things the way He sees them and stay in partnership with Him so that we can continually hear His voice and remain patient.
When we’re patient (especially in those times when others aren’t patient), God is glorified because His character is being demonstrated in us. Here are some practical points to end with:
- It’s important that we surrender what we think it’s supposed to look like because God always has a way better plan than we do. Don’t move into impatience! Don’t get ahead of God; get in step with Him.
- Learn how to stay in the present. Focus on what God wants you to do today (not worrying about tomorrow or living in the past). We grow in patience by cultivating a daily relationship with the Father and communing with Him regularly.
- Take time to wait on Him. Patience increases because we practice His presence (timelessness) and are in tune with what He’s saying right now.
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