Hope is Patient
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Ps. 33:20-22) In the daily pattern of our lives, it may be tempting to believe that nothing will ever change. But when we look back, we can see that our lives have been shaped by extraordinary events. If we have the patience to wait, we know that God can do it again.
2 Peter 3:1-9 (NIV)
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance
How often have I missed God’s best for my life by being too impatient to wait? I’m not alone. People rush into relationships because they don’t believe that anything better will come along. They short-change themselves and minimize their potential by choosing the easy career path, unable to commit the time to long term goals. I once worked with troubled children in a treatment facility, teaching grades one to eight. We had daily goals and awarded points every time they were able to achieve them. At the end of the week they would take their points to the store and exchange them for small prizes like candy or pencils or small toys. These penny items gave them the instant gratification they craved. There were also a few more pricey items that required students to save their points for several weeks. Very few chose this path. Everyone would try it for a week or two, but they gave up when they watched the others enjoying their small rewards while they waited.
Like those children, we become impatient with God, certain that he has forgotten our heart’s longing, and try to do it ourselves. There is a difference between taking initiative to make things happen and accepting second best because we don’t have the faith to wait. When God gives a gift, it is very good, but it doesn’t always come on our schedule. Hope is a certainty, but it may require patience to be fulfilled. We long to have deep joy and peace and love instantly, but it may mean walking through a dry patch when God seems absent. Winter comes before spring.
“Lord we know that all things work together for the good of those who love you, but it’s hard to wait. We want to help you along by choosing a shorter route; one with fewer obstacles. Yet, when we hope in you and pause to consider your best plan for our lives, often the outcome exceeds our expectations. Help us to wait.” Amen