The Path of Patience
(Psalm 27:14) – a Christmas lesson
by Bob Burridge ©2020
Generally people aren’t very good at waiting for things. When I was very young I liked to make models: airplanes, space ships, cars, and other things. When I was a science teacher I had my students build small rockets to launch. The whole school gathered to watch them go up. One of the hardest parts in making all those things was to wait for the glue and paint to dry. It took patience.
We can get impatient when we’re trying to learn new skills, waiting for late guests to arrive, waiting for a slow internet connection, or as I’ve often mentioned before: being stuck in slow traffic, or waiting in a slow checkout line at a store.
But God doesn’t order things to happen fast all the time. He calls us to learn the challenging lesson of patience. We can save a lot of agony by learning the lesson of waiting for things to happen in God’s good time.
God’s promise of a Messiah wasn’t fulfilled right away after Adam’s fall into sin. Many thousands of years went by after the promise in Eden that the child of a woman would crush Satan. All through the Old Testament God’s people waited for the birth of the Messiah. The Prophets encouraged them to deal with each day while God’s plan unfolded. All through Scripture, we’re taught by examples, and by direct instructions, to wait patiently.
Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
In Galatians 4:4-5 the Bible explained, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
Patience is the first attribute of love in 1 Corinthians 13. The Greek word in the original text for being “patient” is μακροθυμεῖ (makro-thumei). It’s made up of two root words:
“makro” means something big, large. We use that word today in English.
– Macro-economics is when we look at the larger things that effect the economy in a society.
– Macro-evolution is the theory that all things evolved from a common lower life form. (Micro-evolution refers to the little changes in races and breeds within created forms.)
– A macro in computer programming is a group of commands that do some large job.
“thumei” is from a word that means “passion, emotion, anger”.
Together these two root words mean: the ability to keep our passions under control for a long time.
So literally “love is patient” means, “Love puts up with things for a long time” (KJV uses “longsuffering”). Love doesn’t give up. It endures through things that annoy us. It keeps on enduring. Patience 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 things to put on as the elect of God.
The key to patience is: improving our understanding of God’s wisdom, goodness, and power. We’re not just told to wait. We’re told to wait on the LORD, (it uses that Covenant name of God).
– God has the wisdom to know the best path and timing to get to what’s best. It was that confidence in the LORD’s timing that strengthened King David when he was pursued by Saul.
– God is always good – so his plans always reach the right goals, at the right time.
– He has the power to fulfill his plan at exactly the best time.
Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
By patiently relying on God’s wisdom, goodness, and power we can learn to have the courage and the strength we need to wait for God’s timing. In the little things where we have to wait, we need to remember that God has ordained when things will happen. Our duty is to use the waiting time well. In the large things where waiting can be very hard and trying, we have the same promise: God knows what he’s doing and nothing can hinder him from doing it at the best time.
One of those larger things we should wait for is our Lord’s coming again to culminate all his promises to us. At Christmas we celebrate that turning point in history where the promised Messiah was born. But his work wasn’t finished then. Today we’re here to serve, obey, and worship him until he comes again.
This should be at the center of our thoughts at the Christmas season. The Savior came. He overcame the power of sin and died to redeem each of his people. He taught us how God’s ancient promises all fit together. It’s our job in this moment of history to live anticipating that climax of the promise in our Lord’s return.
Meanwhile, we’re called by God to wait patiently as we serve him here day by day, regardless of the challenges and circumstances God’s plan stirs up around us. We’re strengthened by the promises and surrounding presence of God. We’re assured that there’s a good purpose in everything that takes place around us as we wait.
Psalm 27:14 teaches us, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)