What Should You Do? when circumstances force you to wait?

By Norman L. Shoaf

You were just cut off on the road by another driver, and you missed your turn. Your first urge was to blast your horn at him or call him some name.

But then you catch yourself and begin looking for the next exit.

You're in the market. You just stopped in to pick up a couple of items. You're due somewhere and you're already late. And wouldn't you know it? Only one checkstand is open, and you're the seventh person in line.

You have several options. You can leave in disgust and come back later to get your groceries. You can find the store manager and, fuming, give him a piece of your mind. Or you can calmly wait your turn and be cheerful about the whole thing.


We all need to develop more patience to deal with problems in our everyday lives-disagreements with our mates, annoyances from our children, unfair treatment from employers and fellow workers, inconsiderate acts of both friends and strangers.

But, as Christians, we have an even greater need to develop real godly patience, living, as we do, in the pulsating pressure cooker that is this age. We are challenged to endure to the end, and to wait patiently for the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment on earth of the kingdom of God.

Cheerful endurance

Paul tells us, "But if we hope for that we see not [our birth into God's Family], then do we with patience wait for it" (Romans 8:25, Authorized Version).

What exactly is true, effective, godly patience? And how can we develop more of it?

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (AV).

Patience is one of the virtues Peter tells us to "add" to keep from falling away from the faith (II Peter 1:5-10).

James writes that Christians should "count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you  may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4)..

The word patience means "cheerful or hopeful endurance, continuance or waiting."

People with real patience bear trials calmly. They are steadfast in the face of adversity or strain. Patient people are not hasty or impetuous, but act with wisdom and discretion. The Bible gives many examples of people who acted with patience-and some who did not.

Wait for the Lord

The prophet Samuel arranged to meet King Saul at Gilgal and

offer sacrifices there before a battle with the Philistines. When the appointed time passed and Samuel didn't appear. Saul and the people with him grew impatient and fearful.

Finally Saul decided to go ahead and offer the sacrifices himself, in direct contravention of God's command.

Immediately after Saul's sin, Samuel appeared (if Saul had only waited a while longer!). The prophet condemned the king's act and informed Saul that God had rejected him from being king of Israel (I Samuel 13:7-14).

Abraham, on the other hand, patiently waited a quarter of a century for the son God promised him from his wife Sarah. Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, "After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."

Remember the patriarch Job? Satan utterly destroyed everything Job had and then racked his body with severe pain. Yet Job set a tremendous example of patience (James 5:11).

King David, unlike Saul who preceded him, had great patience, which was linked with abiding faith in God. David's psalms are filled with expressions of this attitude of patience:

"I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry" (Psalm 40:1).

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope" (Psalm 130:5).

Paul, in the service of God's Work, underwent hardships that we today can scarcely imagine (II Corinthians 11:23-33). Yet he endured patiently, and exhorted others to do likewise.

"But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:3-5, AV).

The greatest example of patience was set by Jesus Christ, who, as an innocent Lamb, died a hideous death to make possible mankind's reconciliation to God: "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3).

Developing patience

Here, then, are several ways to develop godly patience.

Keep your eye on the overall goal. All of us are forced to deal with trials and problems. It's sometimes hard to keep our minds on our ultimate destinybirth into God's Family.

But that's exactly what we must do-keep our minds on that great, overall goal.

James wrote: "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.... You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7-8).

Habakkuk adds: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry" (Habakkuk 2:3).

Think before you act. There is an old saying that "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." A person who jumps to conclusions is likely to end up at the bottom of a cliff.

Your husband or wife made an unkind remark to you? Don't snap back with something you'll be sorry you said. You're tired of standing in line at a church function or at the Feast of Tabernacles? Occupy your mind with something else! Don't dwell on the long line, or you'll end up saying or doing something that will set a wrong example of God's way of life.

Concentrate on giving to others. Impatience is many times rooted in selfishness.

Paul said, "Be patient with all" (I Thessalonians 5:14)-the slow bank teller, the small child who can't understand an instruction, the rude gas station attendant, the person who drones on and on with the most boring story you ever heard.

Overlook the shortcomings of others (you have a few of your own). Forget yourself and be concerned with their welfare. "The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit" (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

Talk out tensions. Does a mate, a fellow employee or a friend have an annoying habit that is about to drive you up the wall? Well, if you simply cannot overlook it any longer, tell the person about it and talk out your feelings.

In many cases, the other person will not have even realized his habit bothered you, and will make an effort to stop, if you approach him with tact, meekness and sincere concern.

Rely on God for strength. Our Father in heaven is the God of patience. Patience (called longsuffering) is a fruit of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22). God can help you have a mind like his (Romans 15:5).

When you think you're at the end of your rope-when you just can't grin and bear it any longer-ask God for more of his Holy Spirit-his strength.

David wrote, "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14).

God can give you the patience you need to overcome.

An incredible future

If we do wait on God-if we practice godly patience and endure to the end of this age-an incredible future awaits us.

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God ... and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:19, 23, Revised Standard Version).

Even God's very creation sets an example of patience for us as it awaits the fulfillment of God's plan!

"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him" (Isaiah 64:4).

Patience is a vitally important commodity in the makeup of the future children of God. We must have godly patience if we are to rule with Jesus Christ!

"For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37:9).

Make every effort to build this trait of godly patience into your character-it is necessary if you intend to overcome the trials of this life and endure to the end.

"For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36, AV).

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