weekly theme #38*
week containing the Sunday between June 17-23
The editors of this devotional didn’t start where I expected, Psalm 37. I became a little angry when I read verses 25 and 28. The author of that Psalm, David, says that he has never seen children of the godly begging for bread, and he adds that the Lord loves justice and will keep the godly safe forever. That is not how I see the conditions around the world! Yet I admit that this topic, patience, is most relevant when conditions don’t align with how I think they should be. Patience is hardest when things are the worst.
“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7a) For a follower of Jesus, there is a connection between patience and trust in God. Often I think God moves too slow, and I become impatient. “Too slow” means I have a pace I want to go and God isn’t keeping up. It is arrogant, and foolish, for me to be impatient with God rather than trusting him. I heap so many burdens on myself, and others, by my lack of trust in the Lord. I must work when he calls me to work, but I must remain still, even rest, if he says to wait. On the other hand, patience may be shown by persistence even when progress seems slow. Impatience can occur even in the midst of activity.
Patience doesn’t seem to be a stand-alone quality. Both Paul and Peter name it among other qualities such as mercy, kindness, self-control, and moral excellence to name a few. I can improve my patience by strengthening surrounding qualities. In fact, maybe patience is simply a fruit of a holy, obedient life. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, thus poor fruit of any type shows a poor connection to the Vine. I think that connection should be my focus, the fruit is a natural result of the connection.
Some of my impatience is over silly things: a slow line at the grocery, slow traffic, people who don’t do exactly what I think they should, etc. In the long-term view, is it really worth getting upset? And the long-term view of God is longer than my lifetime. My view of mission or purpose is usually limited to my days on earth, but God sees mission or purpose over a period of generations – even centuries. Nothing I do is a stand-alone success, but it is merely a thread in a tapestry of events. It is important only as a part of the whole, but in that respect, it is still important. Without all those individual threads, there is no tapestry. Patience is being content to be a thread without seeing the final tapestry.
I want to speak these words the next time I become impatient, “Lord, I’m responding with impatience to [event, person, situation, etc]. I give it into your hands. Your will be done, not mine.”
*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections. I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used. It truly lives up to its title.