“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:25)
Much of life can be a waiting game. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have to endure periods of trial and uncertainty, and it is far from easy. The hardest part about it is that we usually have no control over whatever issues are dragging themselves out over hours, days, even months or more at a time, lest we risk unintended and unpleasant results.
I have needed a lot of patience to get through many aspects of my life. Learning new physical skills can be very slow and difficult for me because of my coordination difficulties. After different stages of education, I have had to spend time at jobs I would rather not work at until I had the resources or opportunity to move on. Nicole and I are buying our first house, and we had to go through a short sale process that lasted six months. Oh, and I’m a Mariners fan … you can probably figure out the rest there.
However difficult it is, patience is a key virtue for us as Christians. The apostle John identifies himself as our “brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus” (Revelation 1:9). Like him, if we are to follow God’s call in our lives – which will in some way spread the hope of His kingdom to others on Earth – we must rely on God to guide us through the pains, frustrations and unknowns that we will constantly have to go through, to do what we cannot. Through faith in Jesus, we have access to God, who enables us to persevere through our hard and troubling times – as long as we continue to trust Him. That, however, is the real test. God’s timeline is almost never parallel to ours, and He often answers prayer in a time or manner we do not expect. And when we are not comforted or provided for in short order, it is all too easy for us to become angry, lose heart, and become at least temporarily disconnected from God. But we must continue to pray and keep our focus on Him, because patience is fueled by hope. When we have the patience to pull through, that hope of fulfillment from God is realized.
There are many examples of this in the Bible. To name a few, Rachel struggled with barrenness while watching her sister and their maidservants have children with Jacob, until finally, “God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22). God promised Moses deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, yet Moses had to come before Pharaoh and speak and perform signs from God ten times; then the Israelites were able to leave. David was anointed King of Israel, but first had to rely on God to give him victories on the battlefield and keep him safe from Saul. He sums up the root of his faith in his psalm: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).
Reliance on God requires that we be patient, so that we can be made complete in Him. The only way we can continue to draw closer to Him and receive His promises is by constant willingness to give ourselves to Him, however difficult the circumstances. True faith is anchored by the knowledge that God will provide what we cannot see or feel, somehow, sometime. If we do not patiently wait for Him, we lose sight of that hope.
Let Psalm 33:20-22 be my prayer for all of us:
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Daniel can be reached via email here.