Sunday, September 30, 2012

Have Patience

Fruit of the Spirit Series – part 4
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…”  Galatians 5:22-23

Did you know that a pineapple plant only produces one fruit per year?  Did you know that the fruit actually takes up to two years to reach complete maturity?  Because of that, we rarely actually see a truly fully-grown pineapple.  

Patience.  It’s something that is in short supply in our culture today.  We are granted instantaneous results to every Google search, instant communication through texting, messaging, or email; we cook instantly with microwavable entrees and steamer vegetable bags, credit cards provide us with instant buying power, with digital photography we have prints within minutes instead of days, and the list goes on…

When do we ever really have to wait for anything?

We think that if we sit any longer than 32.5 seconds at a red light that it’s too slow…we drum our fingers with impatience in the drive –through line, and get grouchy with the receptionist at the doctor’s office if we have to sit still for more than a few minutes.  Oh, and our kids?  Well, they REALLY try our patience!!!  Why can't they EVER learn??

Then we talk to God. We ask, and we expect answers.  Now. Well, if you really want the truth, we would have rather had those answers yesterday.  Why doesn’t God get His timetable matched up with our own?  Then He’d know just how important it is that He what we want and with lightning speed, if you please!  

Patience is defined by the dictionary as follows: 1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like; and 2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

Patience.  We often think of it in light of the second definition.  But what about the first one?  That’s the one I seem to struggle with the most.  I, like many Christians, know in my head that I SHOULD “glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3,4), but that is WAY easier said than done.  I have the malady common to man of chafing under trials and tribulations.  I don’t LIKE hard things.  I don’t ENJOY the parts of life that are working to develop my character.  But I have to remember that God knows exactly what I need.  He happens to desire my betterment….His ultimate desire for each of us is that we become as much like Him as is humanly possible.  And He instructs us to be patient.

James 5:8 “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

We are to walk “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Colossians 3:12-13 says that we are to “put on therefore, as the elect of God…kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.”

Being patient is hard. Especially when we are waiting on God to move in a situation that is near and dear to our hearts.  But God is so incredibly patient with us.

Exodus 34:6 reminds us that the Lord is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Psalm 86:5 states that, “Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

Abraham had to be extremely patient.  His promise from God came many long years before its fulfillment.  But he trusted.  And waited. 

Joseph believed God had something in mind for him as well, but again, that “something” didn’t come along until he had waited through some seriously disheartening and frustrating experiences.  More than once, he could have claimed God had abandoned him.  But he didn’t.  He patiently waited for God’s timing and all was well in the end. 

Not always is the end what or when we think it should be. Can we still wait with trusting patience?  Can we still believe that God loves us when it’s years before our unsaved loved one makes any move toward softening?  Can we wait for God’s plan to work out in our lives when it means watching a child waste away with a life-threatening disease?  When God doesn’t make sense, can we still wait with patience?  He asks us to.  He asks us to trust and to wait.  And knowing just how much He loves us, how much He longs to help us, why is it so hard?  I’m not sure, but I’m in the middle of learning about this myself. Your prayers are coveted and greatly appreciated. 
God bless you all as you enter the busy week ahead.   Remember God knows, loves you beyond what you can imagine, and He’ll be with you every step of the way.   
Doing my best to patiently wait for God to reveal His plan,

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