THE WHOLEHEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 4: Holiness of Character
When Things Don’t Go the Way We Want
Patience! Now, this is a fruit of the Spirit, and you cannot get rid of this one! Patience is all about longsuffering, and this can be tough! Patience is a virtue. So, how do we grow in the quality or characteristic of patience? You might not like the answer!
How do we grow in patience?
You’ve got to go through some suffering! And you have to persevere through it. Be careful about asking the Lord to teach patience. Patience is learned through those situations that stretch you and where you’re going to have to be patient. You will go through these situations over and over until you pass the test.
Where have you been tested in patience?
We’re tested in patience in big things and in the smallest of ways. I’m thinking of standing in line in the grocery store and having to be patient! That person in front of you is counting their quarters or pulling out all their coupons, and you’ve got to be patient with that person. Everyone’s getting a little impatient and annoyed by the person up there, but you’ve got to have grace! Have compassion! And have patience!
Much of the time, especially in the Western world, we live oriented to time. Yet, we’ve got to remember that God lives outside of time. Do you know that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day? (2 Peter 3:8). Since we are seated in heavenly places with Christ, we can live outside of time in moments. God is patient because His concept of time is different.
Why must we anchor ourselves in the goodness of God?
Being patient includes resisting any offense while we’re waiting! Remember, the enemy is always going to test amid that suffering or that situation you’re going through that is trying your patience. The enemy is going to try to say that God is not good. You must anchor yourself in the goodness of God.
It makes me think of the martyrs. “O God, O God, how much longer? How long must we wait for justice to come?” (Revelations 6:9-10) The martyrs are still crying out, on some level. Jesus completed it for us, and yet the fullness has not manifested, so be patient. Patience is an amazing characteristic and a quality that you want to be able to grow in.
Pay attention to those places and times when you grow a little impatient. Learn to just take a deep breath and remember He is developing His nature in you.
How is John the Baptist’s experience an example of patience?
An important story about patience is John the Baptist, who was closing out the Old Covenant, as we entered the New Covenant. When I’m looking for a story of patience, John the Baptist is such an example. He was in prison, and he sends some of his disciples to Jesus: “Are You the One? Or…is there somebody else we’re supposed to be expecting?”
And I always love that story because John knew, right? I mean, Jesus was his cousin, and he did the whole baptism and everything. Why in the world would John be sending his disciples to ask, “Are you the One?”
And then I began to put myself in John’s shoes. Wow! John the Baptist spent his entire life knowing that he was absolutely called by God to do what he did: the story of his father Zechariah, his barren mother Elizabeth’s conception in her old age. That whole thing, right? And how he was raised, how he dedicated himself as a Nazarite. I don’t know about you, but eating locusts, I mean, he paid a serious price to be the prophet out in the wilderness baptizing people. He was a pioneer, paving the way of the Lord to come.
And now, he’s in prison. But Jesus has come! He’s manifested. John was there when heaven opened and confirmation came, “This is My Son.” John knew Jesus was the One. Jesus was the Messiah whose shoes John was not fit to tie. And John must have been feeling, “I’m in prison? What’s up with that? This is not turning out how I thought!”
I imagine John asking, “Are You the guy or not? Because I’ve been doing all of this to get you here, and aren’t we supposed to get the kingdom to come, now?”
And Jesus says this to John’s disciples, “Go and tell John, the blind are seeing, the deaf are hearing, the lame are walking.” He begins to quote the scriptures from Isaiah that identify the Messiah.
But the piece that He leaves out is, “And the captives are set free.” He does not quote that part. He pauses right before that.
And instead, He says, “And blessed is the man who is not offended with Me.”
And then, Jesus turns to His own disciples, “There’s been no greater man that’s been born of a woman than John the Baptist.” He honors John and He praises him. But the message basically was sent to John, “Listen. You’re not coming out of prison. Don’t be offended.”
What do we need to remember?
So, you know, when things don’t turn out the way that we want them to, we’ve got to remember that God has a plan. We don’t always necessarily see the fulfillment of every promise the way we think it’s supposed to turn out. So, when I think about patience, that’s the story I think about. I get it. I can totally relate to John the Baptist. It’s not always going to look the way we think it’s going to look, but God calls us to patience.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
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