Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Advent, Birth of John the Baptist, Patience
Volume 6 No. 387 December 2, 2016
 
III. Featured: Patience

The Patience of God

by Dr. Gary Chapman

You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
- PSALM 86:15

We sometimes think of the God of the Old Testament as a God of anger who was constantly bringing judgment on people. In truth, the God revealed in both the Old and New Testaments has two distinct characteristics: justice and love.

God's justice is often described by the Hebrew word for holy. The word literally means "set apart." God alone is set apart to execute justice. But the second essential characteristic of God's nature is love, and one way he expresses his love is through patience.

The Hebrew word for "patient" is arek, meaning "long," as in "long (or slow) to anger." Jeremiah the prophet described God as "long-suffering," or patient (Jeremiah 15:15). And through Isaiah, God said to his rebellious people, "For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off " (Isaiah 48:9).

When we are patient with others, even in small ways, we are reflecting the character of a loving God.

Thought

Mentally review the history of God's patience with you. Thank him for his patient love.

About The Author:

Dr. Gary Chapman is the beloved best-selling author of The Five Love Languages and Love as a Way of Life. For more information, click here.

Source: Living Love by Dr. Gary Chapman

The Virtue of Patience
"Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools."
- Ecclesiastes 7:89

Bob was required to go online regularly to do research for the reports and other tasks his employer assigned him. One day, he knocked on the door of his company's information technology department and explained that he was having a problem with his computer. His browser was taking too long to load the web pages he had to visit in order to do his job. When Frank, the IT worker, sat down at Bob's computer, he found that on average it was taking just under two seconds to load the web pages Bob needed for his research. Frank explained that Bob's computer was not really slow at all, and Bob replied that his friends at other companies could see the web pages they visited in less than one second.

The story is fictional, but it points to a truth about the reality of life in modern society - we want what we want now, if not yesterday. The idea of patiently waiting for an outcome or for gratification is all but lost on us. Yet patience is a key biblical virtue. Indeed, it is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:2224). One does not have to read very far in Scripture before finding an exhortation to be patient.

Today's passage calls us to patience, explaining that it is better to be patient than it is to be proud (Eccl. 7:8). Coupled with the teaching that the end of a thing is better than its beginning, we find what seems to be a call to patient endurance in the midst of suffering, particularly in light of the mention of oppression in v. 7. Knowing that the end of suffering - the goal that the Lord is trying to achieve as He works in and through our pain - is better, we are encouraged not to give up hope in the midst of trials and tribulations. Instead, we are to think on the good fruit that God will surely produce through our suffering. As Hebrews 12:11 reveals, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

In commenting on today's passage, Matthew Henry notes that "the patient in spirit are here opposed to the proud in spirit, for where there is humility there will be patience. Those will be thankful for any thing who own they deserve nothing at God's hand." If we humble ourselves before the Lord and admit that we have a right to no good thing, we will be thankful for the love God shows us in disciplining us. This, in turn, will help defeat the anger that can lodge in the heart when we are impatient and unwilling to wait for suffering to make us who God, in His timing, wants us to be. Such anger is the mark of fools (Eccl. 7:9).

Coram Deo

Impatience can lead to frustration, which can lead to anger. Cultivating a patient spirit by focusing on the promises of God in His Word and the work of the Spirit of the Lord will lessen frustration and reduce the anger that is the mark of the foolish heart. This is a vital task, for unrighteous anger is the root of many other sins. May we seek the Lord's face in our suffering, trusting in the promises of God that we might endure in patience and love.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Proverbs 25:15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Source: TableTalk Magazine, Copyright 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

The Temporary Non-Path of Patience

by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Managing Editor

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
- James 5:7-8

We all know that patience isn't easy, or fun. What it is, though, is the path of the wise. Or, perhaps it's better to say the "non-path," since it usually involves a decision to do nothing for a while, to be still and know that you are not God, to reflect, or to strategize.

I recently gained new insight into the value of patience and the reason it's prized so highly in the Bible, from verses about "those who wait on the Lord" to "letting endurance have its perfect result."

In the first half of 2010 I raced through a blog of the TV show LOST. The series is replete with Christo-religious metaphors and parallels. One such area it studies in detail is patience. Early on, one of the characters tells another that "Patience, which you lack, is the quality of a leader." It almost flew right by me, like it did the first time. Patience? The quality of a leader? Does that sound right? Not really, not to today's ears. Don't we usually think of leaders as people who make immediate, command decisions, rush into action, tell others what to do, and make people feel safe (which is to say, how they think they need to feel)?

That's part of it; however, those are the very flaws about the concept that plagued most of the characters on LOST. They were so driven to do, fix, run, save, correct, fight, and prove that they often didn't take time to actually ponder the next step or, even better, wait for the next step to present itself. Their lack of wisdom in making rush decisions and actions was obvious to the audience, who kept wondering why they couldn't remember the miracles they'd already seen, why they couldn't reflect on what they'd already come through, the amazing ways they'd been granted second chances, the redemption they'd been given despite not deserving it, the way they kept longing for home while failing to realize they were building a new one (if they could have just slowed down and seen it).

As I watched it all unfold, I was reminded of the children of Israel. Granted, 40 years in a desert would be a long time to wait for anything, particularly a promised new home. So they grumbled. They longed for the old ways, even though those meant bondage and servitude. They failed to stop and understand that the miracles of manna and the Red Sea meant more were on the way - at the right time. They nagged their leadership, sought unproductive solutions, and just like the characters on LOST, were plagued by always feeling they had to do something, to take control.

The paradox is that control is indeed involved, but it's self-control instead of situational control. Relax. Quiet yourself. Let's remember where we came from and the amazing ways we passed through peril for a while. Let's reflect on the present - the fact we're here - and how amazing the Lord is. Let's ponder our future steps before rushing up them and tripping.

Patience - the "strengthening of the heart" James refers to - then is directly related to another fruit of the Spirit, self-control. Self-control thus leads to maturity, which is completeness, which is wisdom, which is leadership, which is purpose, which is ministry, which is being used of God, which is where we see miracles again. Full-circle we come, eventually, when we patiently wait on the Lord, who is never late and perpetually victorious.

Situational control may provide temporary satisfaction, but it also often makes a situation worse. Patience is a willing temporary dissatisfaction, but it puts your emotions under control and God in control. It might make a situation feel like it's not getting better, but the solution can only be miraculous with it as part of the equation. Patience prevents rash judgment, and judgmentalism. It secures a plan. It is a beautiful paradox of being a non-action and yet a conscious exercise of free will. It is the basis for the merciful ways the Lord deals with us. Patience provides the path in proper time, and promises that faith will be rewarded.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Practice patience this week by seeking not to pursue control in one particularly vexing portion of your life, and ponder whether it's indeed your problem to solve in the first place. Start by remembering the miracle of how God got your attention and delivered you, and his promise that the great work he began in you will not remain incomplete, no matter how long it takes. What miracle will be next? Wait and see. "You will know that I am the LORD; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame (Isaiah 49:23)."

Further Reading

Galatians 5:22
Hebrews 6:12
1 Corinthians 4:5
Isaiah 40:31

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

Our Last Minute God

by Steve Hill

When I was in the Army, a common motto was "hurry up and wait." We were required to appear at a destination immediately, but inevitably waited a long while once we arrived. Of course, this trend was very annoying and, if nothing else, taught us that waiting seems, at best, impractical. Had we made the most of our waiting time, our efforts to arrive early would have been practical and made sense; but since we often did nothing while waiting, we reasoned that we would have been better off arriving at the last possible minute.

Perhaps it's due to my military experience, but I admittedly struggle with patience. Once I have determined the best course of action in relation to God's revealed will, I work tirelessly to see it through as quickly as possible. This trait may seem admirable to some, but in reality it can be detrimental.

The life of a believer is marked by struggle and forced patience. When I say "forced," I mean that it is imposed upon us by God, in spite of our personal efforts. It's said that patience is a virtue, and this truth is nowhere more apparent than in the life of every believer. Patience is a necessary virtue because it acknowledges God's perfect timing above our flawed timeline. A lack of patience is rooted in trust of self, while an abundance of patience is rooted in trust of God.

As we examine the Scriptures, we discover that God often waits until the last possible moment to act - especially in times of crisis. To come to grips with patience during trial, we must recognize this characteristic of our Father and keep it ever-present in our minds. Studying God's timing also reveals the reason God tends to postpone action until long after we would expect or desire Him to act. As we review several examples of God's delayed timing, the reason for it becomes abundantly clear.

Remember Abraham and Isaac? God waited until Abraham's knife was raised and ready to plunge into Isaac before He stopped it. When Moses and the Hebrews left Egypt, God waited until Pharaoh and his army were right behind them to part the waters of the Red Sea. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were condemned to the furnace, God waited until they were cast in to deliver them from the flames. When Daniel was sentenced to the lion's den, God waited until he was in the pit to close the lions' mouths. When Samson was engaged in continual battle with the Philistines, God waited until he was bound with his eyes gouged out to defeat them.

The life of Jesus, Himself, was no different. From infancy through adulthood, God delivered His Son from death right before His would-be murderers arrived, until His appointed time.

One common denominator exists for every one of these examples and the many more that fill Scripture: God has to wait until the last possible moment in order to be glorified and in order for us to learn to depend on Him. Had God told Abraham to not kill Isaac prior to lifting his knife, Abraham would have learned nothing of value and God would have appeared foolish instead of righteous. Had God parted the sea for the Hebrews prior to the Egyptians arriving, they would not have appreciated His assistance to the same degree. Had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego never been thrown into the furnace, no one would have witnessed God's saving power. Had Daniel never been with the lions in the den, no one would have witnessed the miracle of their mouths being shut. Finally, had Jesus been delivered from his accusers early, many would have never noticed God's hand in protecting Him till His appointed time and would not have acknowledged Him as the Messiah.

Yet, while God often waits until the last minute, He is never late. As a song I like puts it, He is in time, on time, every time! By waiting until the last moment when we are completely helpless and totally dependent on Him, He forces us to recognize that it is all about Him and not about ourselves. It is as if God is saying, "I have waited until the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour in order to make it clear to you that I am God. You are completely dependent on Me for everything. Trust My ways, not your own. Rest assured and never fear, for I am in control."

When you become impatient and eager to put your own timing above God's, remember that the longer you wait the more mature you will be. Recognize that waiting on God's timing is a blessing, not a curse, and place your full trust completely in the hands of the perfect Timekeeper.

Source: The Word on the Word; 2013 by Stephen Hill

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