Patient Endurance

January 23, 2016
As I sit at my computer today, I’m waiting. Waiting for responses from colleagues at work, waiting for my Amazon order to arrive, waiting for three o’clock to come so I can meet my friend at Starbucks for my venti iced caramel latte. I hate waiting. I’m not a patient person. I like to see results and I like to see them immediately. This can be a really great attribute at work when I drive for results and productivity, but for almost every other area of my life, this “attribute” only results in stress and pressured relationships. Lately, I’ve been asking God for patience over and over again, but I’m not seeing results. Then it hit me, I’m not seeing results yet…

As I turned to Scripture for immediate answers, I heard the still but quiet voice from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV).

Wow. Like a blow to the face I came to realize that even with my Almighty and Provident Father, I am impatient to become patient. But God has a plan for me; He has a plan for all of us. His plan does not revolve around me, I am a part of His plan. And what an honor that is!  Paul reminds us in Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV).

One of Jesus’s closest followers, Simon Peter, was one of the most impatient people in the Bible. Peter wanted immediate answers and results. When Jesus called Simon Peter from his career as a fisherman (probably the worst job for an impatient person), he “immediately left (his) net and followed Him.” (Mark 1:18, ESV).  In this instance, Peter’s excitable nature was counted as obedience.

During his time with Jesus, we see several occasions where Peter questioned God and reacted immediately. When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water in the middle of the night, Peter immediately asked if he could go out too, testing Jesus to prove Himself to him (Matthew 14:28). Peter immediately denied Jesus 3 times when he heard others assuming he was with Jesus (John 18:15-27). Upon hearing Jesus predict His death, Peter immediately replied, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!”  To which Jesus replied, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns”(Matthew 16:22-23, NIV). Needless to say, patience was not Peter’s strong suit, but he certainly was a passionate follower.

It’s no surprise that Peter’s first letter to the Christian church starts with the topic of patient endurance. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). Peter knew firsthand what it meant to learn from his mistakes. Through humility, Peter learned faithful trust in God.

Peter was also able to recognize the patience of God. He points out that God was waiting for His people to obey in the days of Noah: “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water” (1 Peter 3:20, ESV). God, who does not have to wait for anything or anyone, waited patiently for the purpose of teaching His people trust and faithfulness.

“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him” (2 Peter 3:15, NIV).

What a gift we have in the stories of Scripture where we can learn how to love, trust and worship the God of the universe!  When I read these stories and hear of others’ patience, or lack thereof, I can recognize the purposes behind the act of waiting. Patient endurance is a character quality which can be learned and obtained through practice and seeking wisdom from the Almighty, Patient God that we serve. This gives my impatient soul hope and conviction to put aside my false assumptions and need for immediate results. With the grace of God, who calls us to wait on Him, we are called to an eternal reward that is worth waiting for.