I did some errands earlier today, and it being a little over a week before Christmas, the parking lot of the shopping center I was in was full to overflowing. On any other weekend, I could pull into this center and easily find a parking space, but today I took the first spot I could find, a fair walk away from the store I was actually there to shop. I knew I had to be ready to wait and not be in a hurry if I was going to have a decent time shopping.
This evening, my cat, who is more than well-fed, decided to take an interest in my pizza supper. When it was obvious I wasn’t in a mood to share, she laid her head on my lap table and waited for me to finish. She purred and did her best to convince me with her eyes that she was deserving of some cheese, but she didn’t whine or meow.
These events were at the end of a week that had begun with me reading the book of Daniel and being struck by the patience he had, a patience that showed his faith in God and actually saved his life on more than one occasion.
I am a person who likes to have things that make me nervous over with as soon as possible, which often makes me “jump the gun,” seeking quick solutions instead of completely analyzing a situation. More importantly, in trying to find the solution quickly, I don’t give God a chance to guide me!
Daniel didn’t make this mistake. When King Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream and called all his “prophets” to decipher it for him, none of them could manage the job. The King actually killed them in his frustration at their inability, ordering the execution of all such “prophets” in his kingdom.
Stuck under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, Daniel went before this king with a plea to have his chance to explain the dream before also being executed. Now, I would have been tempted to interpret the dream then and there, but Daniel asked to have an evening before telling the king about the dream. Daniel then returned to his three friends, and they all prayed to God to help them. In the end, God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel to tell the king.
The Bible is full of stories about patience. Even those who spoke with God Himself had to practice this very important virtue. Over and over again, the Bible shows that God’s time is not the same as ours. When He makes a promise, He will keep it, even if it takes Him 40 years or 400!
A quick search brings up an abundance of verses on the virtue of patience:
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. (Psalms 37:7-9)
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
This website offers many more verses on the importance of patience for Christian living.
No one, of course, was more patient that Christ. How did He achieve it? The few times He expresses impatience with His disciples underscores the patience Christ otherwise practiced every day He was on this earth. Imagine trying to get a steady stream of ants to change direction without being able to touch them or put anything in their way, and I imagine that you have just a small idea of what it was like for The Lord of all things to come to earth as man and try to teach us the art of LOVE.
In this season of LOVE, when it is so much easier to feel good about the human race, let us all practice patience–with God and with each other.