It turns out that no matter what your age or socio-economic status is- everyone has to wait at some point. Waiting does strange things to people.
Over the past few years, I have spent a fair amount of time in waiting rooms and I have done my share of people watching. I have seen people visibly and vocally angry at the length of their wait, others quiet but visibly distressed with their vacant stares and bouncing knees. Some decide to disengage entirely and mindless scroll on their phone and, occasionally, I will see someone who seems entirely at peace and pleasantly, patiently waiting.
Many of these waiting rooms are for people far beyond a routine check-up. They are people waiting for scans and specialist appointments. And, the heightened emotion is understandable.
But being forced to wait for a doctor on an unknown schedule, for an unknown amount of time pulls away the veil and puts our weaknesses on display. It wears on us and we become exposed.
I know this because I am not a patient person.
Perhaps you can relate. I am not one to ask for suffering and I do not revel in the dissonance of becoming. I am always looking for the silver bullet, the easiest way through the difficulty, or the quick fix.
I am the person most likely to say, “let’s learn the lesson and get it over with”. I have no desire to sit in the difficulty of the moment and I do not “love the process”.
And yet, the last few years, I have been forced to learn patience.
My own capabilities have not wiggled me free from chronic illness. My own talents or smarts have not been able to diagnose or fix the problem. I have been forced to wait on God’s timing, God’s revelation, and God’s process.
I used to think that if I memorized enough verses or read about patience, I too could become patient. And, yet, it seems that patience can only be learned by experience, learned in a circumstance where you have no other choice but to trust God.
I am learning that patience come from a heart that is at peace and a heart at peace is a heart that trusts.
In Greek, the word patience means “to remain/abide under” - patience in the ability to abide under the difficulty and accept the challenging circumstances. Placing our trust in God creates a way to live under the difficulty and wait within the challenge. Patience starts to grow when we can accept God’s sovereignty, his timing, and his will and that only happens when I believe that God sees me, knows me, and loves me.
It would be easy for me to romanticize the experience and talk about how rich and meaningful this learning process has been. And, at times, that has been true. However, a lot of the time, it is just plain hard. Waiting is hard. Trusting is hard. Trusting is hard even though God is incredibly trustworthy and faithful.
But, patience is a precious gift from God forged in difficulty. It is the beauty God makes out of the brokenness of the world.
It is the fruit Spirit in our lives. As any good gardener knows, in order for new fruit to grow the old fruit must die.
So, what must die so that patience can grow?
Only you will be able to answer this for yourself.
But for me: it is my belief about how I think my life should be, my desire to be in control, my pride, my independence, or believing the lie that God does not love me.
I am slowly, ever so slowly, learning to let those things die. And, in turn, I am becoming a little bit more patient and God is graciously giving me more peace. The waiting is becoming a little easier. And I am so very thankful for God’s help in this time.
And, when impatience, fear, or anger rises up in me - as they inevitably do - I am trying to say, “I trust you God. I don’t know what is going to happen but I trust you.”
So, if you have ever experienced a situation where you were unable to speed up the process, where life circumstances were out of your control, where you were on an unknown timeline and waiting, where difficulty surrounded and your only option was to trust God and wait - congratulations! You are being given an opportunity to learn patience.
May God give you the strength and willingness to trust. May you be given patience to abide well under the difficulty while you wait. May you be given the grace to trust in God no matter what surrounds. And may the peace of God which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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