“..the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” ~James 1:3-4
When we’re praying about something and the answer doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight, being patient and trusting God can be a challenge. Some call this place “the waiting.” I call it “the middle”. The place between our prayers and the answers to our prayers. The place between the mess and the miracle. Middles are challenging. They’re the testing ground of our faith. And, although faith is absolutely essential to our journey through the middle, there’s something nearly as important. Patience.
Impatience is defined as “an unwillingness to wait for something or someone.” Many of us have been in a season place when we grew weary waiting on God. We secretly hoped God would just speed things up a bit. We were anxious and ready for God’s answer to manifest. Many of us are knee deep in these feelings right now because of issues within our families, our nation and our world. Our patience has worn thin. We’re ready to see God’s hand move in very real and specific ways. And when He doesn’t show up how and when WE think He should, our impatience and anxiety only grows. We question, ‘why is this taking so long, God?’
The truth is God is always at work in our lives. In Romans 8:26-28, we discover that the Holy Spirit is working behind the scenes, helping us make it through the waiting as God works ALL things out for our good. “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” So, God isn’t trying to torture us in the waiting. God is intentional. He doesn’t waste a moment. While He’s working on our situations, God is culitvating our patience, refining our character, building our perseverance; conforming us into the image of Christ.
God has a divine master plan we cannot even begin to fathom or understand. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) We can rest assured that the Creator of heaven and earth knows what He’s doing. We can also anchor our restless hearts in Jeremiah 29:11, which reminds us that God’s plans for us are really good. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” With this assurance, the waiting is an opportunity to draw nearer to God. Whenever we feel impatience beginning to rise up, that’s our signal to press in deeper, to seek Him more. Impatience, anxiety, anger, worry, and fear are messengers. They’re God’s way of encouraging us to return to Him. To return to His love, His embrace, His wisdom, His peace, His grace, His mercy and His comfort. This is where we experience the absolute wonder of God. The more we INTENTIONALLY lean into Him, the less anxious and impatient we become! “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG) In His Presence our patience develops, and we are reminded that He is the Potter. We are the clay. Our lives are in His safe in His hands.
Prayer: “Father, we glorify you. You are such a good, good Father. Thank you for developing my ability to be patient and wait on you. Forgive me when I become impatient. Help me to remember that you know the way I should go, and I can always trust you. When I begin to feel weary and anxious, may those feelings encourage me to return to you. I ask these things in the name of your beloved Son, Jesus. Amen.