(I wrote this during my quiet time, before church. Interestingly, today’s sermon was on God’s covenant to His people which can be seen symbolically through the Lord’s Supper.)
My 3-year-old will often ask a request that requires my attention. Okay, more like every moment of every day. However because my day does not consist of me following her around, waiting for her to need me, she often has to wait until I am finished with my task in order to fulfill her request. I respond by telling her, “wait patiently and I will help you in a minute.”
Her patience at this point in her short life only consist of about 15 seconds, then her request is made once again. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I make her wait even when I have nothing else going on. Gasp! There are a few reasons for this. One, because I want her to learn that her needs and desires aren’t the most important thing in this world. And two, to teach her patience and help her grow in her patience.
I know she’s only three, but I’m way older than three. And so often my ability to wait patiently resembles that of a 3-year-old.
Read this definition of patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
James 1:12 says this, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
The crown of life is the ultimate gift in our belief in Jesus. Receiving the crown of life means we get God, but this requires a few things: 1. Belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and 2. Patiently waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled while we live on earth. Part of remaining steadfast under trial, which if we are Christians we know that we will suffer, is holding fast to His promises and continuing to believe, trust, and obey during times of suffering and times of waiting.
Let’s look at Abraham, a great example of what it looks like to wait patiently, trust God, and obey Him even when under trial. God made Abraham an oath that through him, God’s people will be born, an entire nation. Abraham waited 25 years after God’s promise for the birth of Isaac (his son), and then waited another 60 years for the birth of grandchildren. That’s 85 years that Abraham patiently waited to see God fulfill His covenant.
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying “surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. -Hebrews 6:13-20
An oath during this time was a word that held authority. When a man swears an oath on something/someone greater, it is the highest form of expression that will bring an end to the argument, knowing that he will be held accountable by the “name of someone greater” on which he gave his oath. God swore by His own name, which reveals multiple things, two of them being: God does not lie, and His name is the greatest. We know that God did not need to make an oath, and He still would’ve kept His promise, but the fact that He did so, reveals great love He had for Abraham in that He wanted him to be certain that His promise will be kept. It also shows that we can trust God, even while we are waiting.
As believers, we are required to wait. Whether that means we are waiting for His promises to be fulfilled or whether we are waiting for our suffering to end, we are told to remain steadfast and persevere to the end. Like Abraham, we may not see the complete fulfillment of His promises in our lifetime, but we have a refuge in Jesus because we know that His name is the greatest and His word is the truest. We can look back at the promise He made with His people, that says through Jesus we stand holy before a righteous God. And we can look forward to the promise that one day we will stand face-to-face blameless before God, and He will make a new Heaven and a new Earth.
I have a friend that accepted the call to adopt a child. They waited 5 years. Not months, YEARS. They didn’t expect to wait that long, nor did they choose to wait that long. They could’ve easily thrown in the towel and moved on, but they didn’t. In November of last year, we began to pray boldly. We prayed that they would receive a child by Christmas. We knew that God was still good, whether or not they received the child before our deadline. They brought home their daughter on December 22, three days before Christmas. Five years later.
Patiently waiting reveals our unwavering hope in a God who keeps His word, just as impatience exposes cracks of unbelief that can slowly swallow us up in fear and anxiety. Patience says, “we trust you God,” while impatience proclaims that we don’t believe God is who He says.
Patiently waiting is so hard, but we have a God that never lies and fulfills his promises, so we can be patient. We have a God that is not on our timeline, but sees through all time and chooses His moments perfectly. We have no need to be angry while waiting, because like Abraham, waiting patiently means we believe in a trustworthy and faithful God. We can be encouraged by His unchangeable character, and we can anchor our souls in the hope that is set before us, His oath, Jesus.