How to Be Patient

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance,” wrote Samuel Johnson.

There’s a reason for the fact that great works are performed by perseverance. It’s because truly great works are performed by God. Sometimes we go through troubled times because God needs to teach us to know this. He wants us to rely on him rather than our own wisdom, ability or strength.

Wise farmers  get this. And they are also smart enough to know that you can’t rush the harvest. The finish line is the finish line. Crops cannot be rushed. There are no shortcuts. You do what you can do, and you trust God, and you keep your eye on the day when the harvest will be brought in.

The Old Testament prophets also got it. There were times when life was pretty unbearable for them. Think of Elijah under the constant threat of Ahab and Jezebel. Or consider Hosea being asked to marry — and then redeem and remarry — his unfaithful wife. Or recall Jeremiah who was thrown into a muddy, mucky cistern for a prison cell and left to barely survive.

Job understood too. Job’s patience in all his troubles is legendary. After all Job went through — including losing his property, his possessions, his friends and most of his family — he was hurting and he struggled, but he persevered in his faith in God.

You get the picture. Life was often extremely difficult for an Old Testament man or woman of God. The only thing that kept them going was their Lord, and their faith that God would make good on his promises. Patience and perseverance was the result of having an eternal perspective. They knew there would be a finish line. They knew a harvest day was coming.

And so, in the midst of all their difficulties, they kept their eye on the end goal, not knowing exactly when it would arrive, and they waited for God to perform a great work in their lives. Whatever events were telling them, they clung to their faith that God’s plan for them was full of compassion and mercy.

The truth is, when our trials and troubles seem to provide proof that God has disappeared from the scene, God’s promises assure us that his plans never fail. There is an end in sight, because the Lord is coming.

So in the meantime, we can recall that great works are performed not by our strength, but by God’s strength. Knowing that, we can be patient and persevere.

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near… Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5: 7-8, 10-11, NIV).

Lord, I know your plans and promises for me are great. It is hard for me to be patient and to wait for your plans to come to fruition. I fail many times at being patient. Please forgive me and help me to always keep the finish line in mind as I wait for you to do great things in my life.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, November 21, is Ezekiel 40:1-49, James 5:1-20 and Psalm 130:1-8.

Header image based on "Henri J. M. Nouwen Let's be patient and trust..." by BK, CC By-SA 2.0

Short Fuse or Long?

The disciples were ready to “go off” on the people of a village they were passing through. The villagers were completely unwelcoming toward them.

“Let’s rain down fire,” the disciples proposed to Jesus.

But, doing some “real-time coaching,” Jesus corrected them immediately. He reminded them what his heart is toward people who reject him and insult him.

He is patient. Forgiving. Willing to turn the other cheek. Just as he had once preached in his Sermon on the Mount as the way to respond to those who hate and hurt.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village” (Luke 9:51-56, NIV).

Do you find that when others hurt you, you hope for immediate justice — like the disciples? Do you expect God to have a short fuse in those situations?

How about when you hurt others? Are you still wishing for speedy retribution? Do you hope that God will have a short fuse with you?

Or do you hope that God will be patient and forgiving?

Remember, Jesus wants us to use the same measure with others that we would want to be used with us. How glad I am that Jesus is patient with me. And I will pray for the Holy Spirit to help me be just as patient with others!

Join me in that prayer?

Lord, today we are celebrating Good Friday. What a great reminder of your patience, forgiveness and love! You paid the ultimate price to earn my forgiveness. Please give me the same patience toward those who sin against me as you have toward me when I sin against you.

Our Bible reading for Friday, April 3 is Numbers 35:1 – 36:13, Luke 9:28-56 and Psalm 40:9-17.

Header image based on "Burning Fuse Macro" by p.Gordon, CC By 2.0