Brief Note for the Impatient
Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies
by Bob Burridge ©2011
Generally people are not very good at waiting for things. It’s a quality we all have to work on. It’s one we are impatient to see develop in those around us.
The events of a normal day bring uncomfortable reminders that patience is a skill we cling to with a loose grip. It might begin with waiting for the water to get hot in the shower, watching bread slowly turn into toast for breakfast, sitting stalled in traffic, or waiting on lights to turn green at intersections. People roll their eyes and shift their weight as if that will help the person ahead of them in the check out line find the right change or dig out the appropriate store discount card.
This is an obvious fact: God didn’t make his universe to provide things fast all the time. His promises were not intended to be fulfilled right away. Though the promise of redemption was made in Eden in the moments after our first parents sinned, it took all the millennia up to the death of our Savior to see it fulfilled. God wants us to learn patience. In his written word to us he provides important principles that can save a lot of agony in learning the lesson of waiting.
Psalm 27:14 is a good verse to memorize and to repeat to ourselves often.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
The lesson is taught all through Scripture. The Greek word used most of the time for “patience” in the original text of the New Testament is makrothumei (μακροθυμει). It’s made up of two root words:
1. “makro-” (μακρο-) means something large. Macro-economics is when we study the larger things that effect on the economy in a society. Macro-evolution is the theory that all things evolve from lower life forms. In contrast, micro-evolution refers to the little changes in races and breeds within created forms. A “macro’ in computer programming refers to a group of commands that do some larger job.
2. “-thumei (-θυμει) is from the root word that means “passion, emotion,” and sometimes it’s used to describe the way emotions break out in a display of “anger”.
When these two words come together they mean the ability to keep passions under control for a long time.
This word for “patience” is the first attribute of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4 where it says, “Love is patient … ” This means, “Love puts up with things for a long time” (the King James Version uses the word, “longsuffering”). Love doesn’t give up. It endures annoyances, the selfishness of others, and long seasons of waiting.
Patience (longsuffering) is the 4th element in the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. It’s the 5th item in Colossians 3:12 of those things with which to clothe ourselves as the elect of God.
They key to learning patience it is to improve our understanding of God’s power, wisdom and goodness.
We’re not just told to wait. We’re told to wait on the Lord, on Jehovah.
Psalm 27:14 tells us that we are to wait on him with “good courage.” The word use is khazaq (חזק) . It relates to being strong, courageous, and resolute. Our confidence that God is in control and is able to do all he desires to do helps us see beyond the moments of waiting. We know that there is an infallible plan at work. Our moments of waiting are part of that plan.
God has the wisdom to know what is best. He lays out the best path to take to get to that which is best for us. This confidence is what Job lacked when he cried out to have God explain the sufferings he had to endure. It’s what Habakkuk was forgetting when he demanded an answer from God about why evil was being permitted to surround his people. God answered the impatient prophet with those well known words in Habakkuk 2:4, “… the just shall live by his faith.”
The knowledge of God’s power and faithfulness even in times of prolonged difficulty was what gave confidence to King David when he was pursued by Saul.
God is always good, which means that his plans are always aimed at the right goals. He has the power to fulfill his plan exactly when it should be fulfilled.
Psalm 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Strength of Heart
The Psalm the assures us that the strength of heart we need in those times of anticipation comes from God our Creator, our Loving Redeemer. It is his promise.
Based upon our knowledge of God’s wisdom, power, and goodness we can learn to have the courage and the strength we need to wait patiently for God’s timing.
In the little things where you have to wait, you need to remember that if you have to wait God has ordained it to be. Your duty is to use the waiting time well. In the large things where waiting can be very hard and trying, you have the same promise. God knows what he’s doing and nothing can hinder him in it.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)