26. Passing the Patience Test...With Pleasure, not Pressure





Here it is, the one you have all be WAITING for; the virtue of Patience!

How many times have you ever heard someone say, "Don't pray for patience. If you do, God will send you things that will test your patience."

But is that really true? Perhaps. Or perhaps, you have never learned how to endure the trial in patience in the first place and God simply sends you again and again to remedial school until you learn it. It is better for you to learn how to "pass the test" of patience. 

From our reading we see how the Lord is slow to anger, He is patient. (See Numbers 14:17-19). But the Lord is also patient in allowing us to execute punishment for our stubbornness (see Numbers 14:30-33). If you read the passages from Numbers, you might think that it is God who needs to learn patience, but in reality, God is testing Moses in this area and sure enough Moses passes the test. 

Like Moses, I too struggle with patience. No, I have never murdered an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew slave and, no, I have never struck a rock when God told me to speak to it. But when tensions flare and tempers flash, I have been known to fail my patience test. As I prepared to teach this class, I felt like, "How do I teach something that I am still learning?" 

  • First, I think I teach the lessons the best which I have had to learn the most. I have found that I pass the test when I first prepare for it with a Quiet Time in the morning. As I pray and read the Bible, I walk through my day, asking God to be with each step. For the areas that I don't know are coming, it seems that my devotional time in the morning helps me to "expect the unexpected" events that await for me each day.

  • Second, I don't count to ten, instead I count my blessings. The children's lesson talks about how Jesus healing a man who waited 38 years to be healed. The Apostle Paul prayed for healing and after the third prayer, Paul found the grace to face the hardest answer from the Lord; that is, the answer of "no." How did Paul pass the patience test? He counted His blessings and God blessed Him with the grace of knowing when Paul was weak, God is strong.

  • Third, I persevere with pleasure, not pressure. When my patience runs thin, I try to wait with pleasure, looking for ways to make lemonade out of lemons (or at least flavor my water with those lemons). I look for the good in the bad situation, remembering that God and only God can take the worst thing in the world, the death of His Son, and make it the best thing in the world, the resurrection of His Son. When God says wait, hang on, because things are about to become GREAT. Remember, no pressure, no diamonds! So don't just wait; wait with pleasure.
Understand, you can ask my family and my coworkers, I have not mastered this completely. I am writing this now, but I am soon to be reading it and like Randy Frazee said, "Lord, let me offer the patience today that I will need to receive tomorrow."

This virtue of Patience is the first of the final five that are "more outward and are felt by others when we are exhibiting them" (Believe, page 419). The other four are Kindness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Humility.

The devotional below comes from Zondervan 


KEY QUESTION: 
How does God provide the help I need to deal with stress?

One of the primary ideas behind the virtue of patience is taking a long time to overheat. The Greek word carries the idea of a thermometer. If a spiritual thermometer were placed in our mouths as we faced a difficult situation, how long would it take for our temperature to rise? As we mature, we learn to control our anger and practice patience in all circumstances.

Another aspect of patience is holding up under the pressures of life, waiting on the Lord for resolution.

Patience is a virtue that we develop through control of our anger, and we develop this virtue in the face of adversity. Our cultivation of patience pleases God, who is patient with us. Patience affects our relationships in a positive way and brings great joy to our lives and community. The writer of Hebrews tells us how God fosters this virtue in us over time.

KEY VERSE
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

KEY IDEA
I am slow to anger and endure patiently under the unavoidable pressures of life.

KEY APPLICATION: 
What difference does this make in the way I live?

Enduring in patience and trusting Christ help us see that receiving something later is often a far better plan than receiving it now.

The faster we want a life event to occur, the more it usually means we aren’t ready to handle the responsibility of it. TV commercials and credit card invitations prey on this fact of human nature. “We just have to have...” is always a strong indicator that we should wait.

As we mature in Christ, we will see more clearly why his timing is perfect. He knows best when we need something; therefore, to trust his heart and hand to provide is far better than placing before him our selfish demands. Someone once wisely said, “God never moves hastily, but when he does move, he usually moves swiftly.”

YOUR TURN



In what ways is waiting patiently different from merely waiting? (You may find one idea in Proverbs 19:11.)

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