Patience and Faith
Here is the patience and faith of the saints.
There are those who cry, “How long?” who find it hard to exercise patience anymore. But it is significant that right at the start of this book which deals with judgement, John should describe himself as “your brother and partaken with you in tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus.” This book of Revelation brings us to the point where God at length sets aside patience and executes judgement. Patience is only called for while judgement lies yet in the future. Once it has begun there is no need of patience. But that moment has not yet come, and like John we still live in a time when patience is still needed. It is so easy to want to take up the sword against oppression and evil, but even the martyred saints are told to wait the completion of their number(Revelation 6:10). God will never justify impatience. He himself is long-suffering. Let us display true faith in him by availing ourselves of his patience.
It seems that faith and patience go together and are inseparable. The Bible provides a number of stories about those who lived by faith also learned patience. Consider Abraham and Sarah who believed God’s promise of a son until they ran out of patience. When they lost their patience of waiting on God, they moved ahead with their own means of bringing the promise to pass. What a mess they made but after their season of waiting God in His faithfulness brought to pass His promise in Isaac. I have no doubt that once Isaac arrived, the long wait was worthwhile. Think of Hannah who went year after year to the temple and made the very same request to the Lord for a son. But one year after the long wait, Hannah gave birth to Samuel. What a blessing he was not only to his mother but to the whole nation of Israel.
Actually the whole chapter of Hebrews 11 is given to those who walked in faith as they waited patiently on the promises of God. Some of those stories we know well but we get so excited about the incredible outcome, we forget the patient waiting by those whose lives are recorded in them. Think of Daniel who spent the night in the lion’s den. We think of it as an almost instant deliverance. That night Daniel was in a dangerous place with no means to escape. In a den and surrounded by hungry lions isn’t exactly the ideal place to practice patience, but that what Daniel did. His patient waiting on God in faith gave him so much peace that he lay down and slept. The king, on the other hand who did not know the life of patient faith, paced the floors all night.
What about the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. They weren’t put in and immediately taken out. Scripture says they had to walk in the flames for a time. Yet their patient faith prevailed. We don’t read they were trying to make their escape or pushing the panic button. They spent their waiting time walking with the Lord.
In each story of those of faith, we discover they walked with God and continued with their faithfulness and confidence in Him until they received the reward of faith.
We are instructed to wait on the Lord:
“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]Will gain new strength and renew their power;They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];They will run and not become weary,They will walk and not grow tired.”
The waiting described here isn’t that of pacing the floor, looking out the window a million times, or wringing our hands while we wait impatiently for God to act on our behalf. As a matter of fact, impatience comes from a position of mistrust and doubt. The Hebrew word translated “wait” speaks of taking the time to wrap ourselves with God and being wrapped up by God much like a vine wraps itself around a tree to have the strength to climb to the sun. The promise of patient faith provides new strength, renewed power and endurance. It’s worth the wait.
Lest we find ourselves becoming impatient with ourselves or others, let us remember that God is patient with us. Many Christians grow weary of the challenges of life and cry out for the Lord’s return forgetting that His delay is due to His patient mercy, not willing that any perish.
Since God has waited patiently on us, can we do less than to wait patiently on Him?
Dr. John Thompson