Ep014 Godly Patience in Uncertain Times

In these uncertain times, it’s easy to lose patience. But God doesn’t give us a pass on our impatience. In this episode we’ll talk about patience, its opposite, and how we can remain patient even in these uncertain times.

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We Christians are Pretty Bad About Patience

Let’s face it, if there is one thing Christians are pretty terrible with, it’s patience. We are so like the Israelites in the Wilderness, sometimes we even resemble Saul rushing to act and sacrifice before Samuel arrives.

Human weakness or not, God does not give us a pass on our impatience. Over and over in the Scriptures we are commanded to “wait on the Lord”.

As I record this, COVID-19 has literally stopped the world, and we don’t yet know for how long. The “experts” crunch their data, hoping it is reliable to begin with, create their models, and offer their best guesses. Meanwhile, like a freight train whose emergency brake has been pulled, we’ve lived through life as we know it screaming and grinding to a halt.

We Christians need to model our faith in God to our neighbors. We can do that by modeling at least three characteristics: Patience, Persistence, and trust in God’s Providence.

Over the next three episodes we’ll talk about each of these, starting today with Patience.

  • What do we do with our impatience?
  • What resources does God give us to be patient?
  • Can we be patient and eager at the same time?

We’ll answer these questions together, today, on Grace and Peace Radio.

No Free Pass on Being Impatient

I admit, as I write this my patience has waned over the last few days. I’m recording this episode as much for me as for you. I’ll spare the details, but they’re probably some of the same reasons and feelings you have–wanting life to return to normal…or at least its usual level of so-called normal.

And therein lies the problem. Impatience is a fundamental discontentment and grumbling against the timing and providences of God. In very plain terms, impatience is a temper trantrum we throw against God’s will for our lives in the moment. At the heart of impatience are two little words: I WANT… We want something and we want it now. We are tired of waiting for it.

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A central theme of the show is taking some issue and discovering together how we ought to think biblically about it. How should we conform our minds in accordance with God’s Word about something?

As we begin to think biblically about patience and its opposite, the first question, then, before us is:

What Do We Do With Our Impatience?

It should be obvious by now that impatience is a sin. Like all sins, at its heart is rebellion, rebellion against the Lord and his good and wise decrees in our lives. And so, as a sin, we must go to the Lord and repent of it. We must go our Father and confess that we’re grumbling at how we are feeling ourselves inconvenienced by his will for our lives at this moment, which means in our hearts there is a part of us saying we know what’s best.

As believers, this should shame us, but only so far as it causes us to confess and repent. Having done that, we can be thankful that even this sin, like all our others, is mercifully and lovingly covered under the atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all righteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Forgiven, we can ask the Lord to kindly re-invigorate our hearts to be fully submitted to his decrees once more, trusting once again that he is good and sovereign.

And, of course, this likely will not be a one-time event. We may find ourselves needing fresh mercies daily, if not hourly! Mercifully, as often as we need it, the Lord will provide it, which brings us to answering the second question:

What Resources Does God Give Us to Be Patient?

First, he gives us himself. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit with us. The Lord himself is in us and working and urging us towards Christlikeness and away from our sinful nature. Trying to grit our teeth and “do better” is useless without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remember too that one fruit of the Holy Spirit is Patience. The Lord delights to give us patience, so ASK and ask often!

He gives us His Word. Ask him to show you something new from your daily Bible reading to help you be patient. Memorize a verse. Praying that verse as a prayer to the Lord is another way of “renewing your mind” with God’s Word.

Confess to another brother or sister your feeling impatient and how the Lord is working with you about it, and ask them to be praying for (be sure to ask what you can be praying for them for).

These are just a few examples.

Listen to Hebrews 12:1-4,

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin”

That is a call to patient endurance in our faith, with Jesus as our inspiration, our role model!

You know, it’s funny, a few weeks ago I was thinking about Hebrews 12:1,

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

When I was younger I focused on the first part, the great cloud of witness, laying aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us….” Now that I’m older, that word “run with PATIENCE” is what jumps out at me more. This Christian life is such a marathon!

One last thought…

Can We Be Patient and Eager at the Same Time?

Is it possible to eager for something, yet not be in sin about it? Is there a difference between sinful impatience and eagerness? Depending on what it is, yes. Impatience is always sinful. Eagerness, on the other hand, is a sort of “sanctified impatience” if you will. Let me explain:

We’ve all been there…waiting to hear if we get the job interview…or waiting to hear if we get the job offer from the job interview. Will that girl or that guy be at church again next Sunday? Will I get accepted to the college I applied to? Will I get that scholarship? When we are engaged we say, “I can’t wait til we’re married!” …On and on the examples can go.

Looking forward with hope or with anticipation in a good way, that eagerness, is a good thing. We’re trusting the Lord’s timing and providence (even if we’re on the edge our seat about it!), but again, in a good way.

  • The Bereans in Acts 17:11 “received the word with all eagerness”
  • Paul in Romans 1:15 was “eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome”
  • In Romans 8 Paul says that even the whole of creation “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” While “we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”

These are just a few examples of where we see a sanctified sort of impatience in the Scriptures.

Think also about our longing for the Lord’s return. We say Maranatha or “Come, our Lord!” We eagerly await Jesus’ return, when all that is wrong in this world will be gloriously right!

I want to leave you with four quick examples of patience to keep in mind in the days and weeks ahead (and Lord willing, not “months”, but even if it comes to that…)

First, think of the patience of John Bunyan, in Bedminster jail for preaching the gospel initially for what was supposed to be three months, but which turned into 12 years. There is some patience! And after he was released he was later jailed again for another six months before finally be permanently free.

Second, I have to remind myself often to think of Adoniram and Ann Judson. As was common in their days, it took them 4 months to cross the ocean to India, with Ann being seasick most of the way. Their missionary partner, Luther Rice, took a slower ship across…his voyage took an extra two months to meet up with them. Aren’t you glad you’re not stuck on some ship with animals and filth and not much to do but look at the horizon!

And one last example: When Hudson Taylor headed for China, en route the sailing ship he was on encountered a problem—no wind! There was barely a breeze for some 17 weeks. Meanwhile they did nothing but barely move forward. Imagine languishing without so much as a breeze, captive on the open seas, while your life was on hold!

God has blessed us with examples from his Word and heroes of the faith for so many lessons we need to learn!

I hope that helps you recalibrate your patience-o-meter! It certainly has mine!

Next time, we’ll be looking at Persistence. How can we look to the Lord and be persistent Christians in this unusual time?

If you would like the show notes for today’s program, just go to www.GraceAndPeaceRadio.com/14.

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