Vol. 11 No. 5 May 2009
We live in a microwave–“make it happen” yesterday society. Virtually all of us have experienced having to be patient and to wait when it was the last thing we wanted or felt we needed to be doing! I will share three such nerve racking occasions. My husband and I waited for three hours to receive a service. When it finally became our turn, we were told we had been directed to the wrong line. The service we needed could have been taken care of two hours before then! I waited in a drive-through pharmacy for one hour when there were only four vehicles ahead of me! I waited 35 minutes on a plane and watched at least 15 planes leave before we were finally cleared for take-off!
We are thrilled beyond words when God answers us within minutes or even seconds. What about those times when we are left to be patient and wait for hours, days, months and sometimes even years? It is hard to be patient and wait, especially when we do not understand what God is doing. Sometimes, we lose sight of Who our God and Father is and how He deals with us. We forget that He can and will respond to us with something far better than we ever imagined at times, if we have the faith to be patient and to wait.
Job 14:14 says, “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.” That kind of patience and waiting takes trust and confidence in the one on whom you are waiting to act! David lets us know who that is in Psalm 40:1; “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.”
In John 11, Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. However, Jesus stayed two more days in the place where He was. They had to be patient and wait. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. His sisters told Jesus if He had been there Lazarus would not have died.
What they did not understand was that through their having to be patient and wait, Jesus had a whole lot more than a healing in mind when He asked God to raise Lazarus from the dead! Jesus had told Martha that if she believed, she would see the glory of God. John 11:41-42 records, “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Through the unfathomable power of God, Lazarus was raised from the dead! The purpose of our Lord and the Father was fulfilled when we read verse 45; “Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.” Mary and Martha had to wait on God’s time and place. His name was glorified through their painful, emotional trauma of the death of Lazarus.
I read a definition of the biblical concept of being patient and waiting in an article nine years ago; but to my dismay, I did not take note of the source of this definition. However, I was so impressed that I wrote it down and pasted it in the front of my Bible, and I have referred to it often in Bible classes since then. This kind of patience and waiting does not vaguely resemble what we are normally accustomed to doing.
First this author said there is a difference between longsuffering and patience. He said “longsuffering” is the ability to keep a forgiving, hopeful attitude toward people to avoid retaliating a wrong.
Then he stated that patience is:
He further stated that patience will:
This ability to be patient and to wait is the goal we all should have as we attempt to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of God and Christ. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:25-26).
As we continue to read, study, meditate, seek and search the Scriptures, we need to give more earnest attention to the actions of God in the phrases: “now in the process of time”; “now it came to pass”; and “that it might be fulfilled” and other such phrases denoting passages of time.
Being patient and waiting–who wants to do that? Those of us who have come to know that God’s timing is always perfect and precise and designed for our physical and spiritual best!