As I write this on March 5, 2010, my family is getting an exercise in patience. Our home is rife with anticipation for the birth of our new baby, who is due in a very short time. Because of the excitement, I sometimes become overly eager as I wait for this precious child, and I say, "I canít wait to see her!Ē It seems that I have been affected by this age of instant gratification and high-speed everything that has made the virtue of patience into a rare commodity. However, my family and I know that it is best for this child to wait a little while longer, and so we will gladly wait and pray for Godís blessings.
From this personal exercise in patience, I see an even greater application for me and for every Christian. The blessings of God through Christ are abundant in this life, but we know that the greatest blessings will not be realized until this life is over. The imperishable, eternal inheritance of God is reserved in heaven for Christians (1Pet. 1:4), but for now we can only hope for that which we have not yet seen (Rom. 8:24-25; Heb. 11:1). To maintain this hope, it will require patience from us, for it may seem to be a long time until our hope is fully realized, and we may endure hardships, trials, and temptations along the way (Jas. 1:2-4).
Indeed, it is necessary for every Christian to exercise patience, for it is the Lordís will that we should wait for Him. Consider how the apostle Paul cited three steps in the course of a Christianís conversion as exemplified in the Christians at Thessalonica: (1) Turn to God; (2) Serve a living and true God; (3) Wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come. (1Thess. 1:9-10) Notice the elements of patience and anticipation in this third step. A Christian is to wait for the Lord and eagerly anticipate His coming.
Godís expectations for His peopleís patience is nothing new, for people of faith have always been required to wait for the fulfillment of their hope. We may consider the examples of Abraham, who waited many years to see the birth of his promised son, or of Joshua and Caleb, who wandered with the stubborn Israelites for forty years before they could possess the promised land of Canaan. In these examples and many others, we see that godly patience brings a great reward. Consider the message of Isaiah 40:31 Ė "They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.Ē Isaiah preached patience to Judah when they faced the immediate threat of Assyria and the future threat of Babylon. He counseled Judah to wait for the LORDís deliverance rather than seeking their own through alliances with other nations. Likewise, Christians must faithfully take on the difficulties of this world and patiently wait for the Lordís deliverance.
To give us a proper perspective and increase our patience, it is good to consider Godís patience with us. Rather than faithlessly questioning the Lordís delay as the mockers do (2Pet. 3:3-4), let us recognize this delay as Godís patience and a great blessing. Notice 2Peter 3:13-15a:
"But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvationÖĒ
Focus on that last phrase: "Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.Ē God is waiting in order to give more souls the chance at salvation, for He "is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentanceĒ (2Pet. 3:9). Surely, if God was patient toward us while we were sinners, then the least we can do as Christians is to patiently wait for the coming of His Son.
Therefore, knowing Godís patience with us, let us be ever patient in anticipation of the Lordís coming. Let us also be confident that our patience will be well worth it, for salvation, eternal life, and heaven will surely be worth any wait. In this life, our anticipation of worldly things often leads to disappointment, but this is not true in the things of God. In the case of a baby, there is joy in anticipating, but there is even greater joy in receiving. Likewise, in the case of our Lordís coming, there is joy in anticipating, but there is even greater joy in receiving.
"Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.Ē (Jas. 5:7-8)
Let us rejoice now as we anticipate the coming of Christ, and then we may rejoice even more when our wait is over and we receive the joy of our Lord.
Stacey E. Durham
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