Minnie was a sweet lady I would visit at her home south of town. Frustrated with her lack of progress in physical therapy after a fall, she’d ball up her fist, scrunch up her face, and say in a stage whisper,
“I want patience, and I want it now.”
Oh, Minnie, we are with you.
When will I get a break? When will it be my turn? When will it get easier? When? There are no easy answers to these questions.
I’ve read whole books about patience. I pray for it all the time. I know the answers I’m supposed to give to others and myself. “It’s all God’s timing,” or “Trust God. He will provide.” My answers are true, but they’re not necessarily what I want to hear when the good news is slow to come.
The real answer to the question, “When?” is, “We don’t know.” God’s mind isn’t our mind. God’s timing isn’t our timing. Patience is a matter of trust.
So, we take a deep breath and remember, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-7). We breathe and remember, over and over again.
When my patience runs thin and I’m frustrated with God for God’s glacial pace, I try to remember my own voice as I spoke to my teenagers when they were angry about how I was handling a situation.
“It’s okay to be mad,” I’d say to my kids, “but it’s not okay to take it out on other people. Don’t use it as an excuse to act out. You’re still under my roof, so you’ve got to abide by this decision even though you don’t like it. I have a lot of things and people to take into consideration, too, so I hope you’ll trust me that I love you and have your best interests in mind. Don’t stop coming to be, even when–especially when–you’re angry.”
I imagine God saying something similar to me when I run out of patience and get frustrated with Him for His timing.
“It’s okay to be frustrated with my timing,” He might say, “I know it’s hard, but
don’t take it out on your family, your friends, or your co-workers. Don’t use your frustration with Me as an excuse to get drunk or start a fight. You’re still My disciple, so I’m asking you to live with My timing, even though you don’t like it. I love you, and I want what is best for you. I have a world full of people to take into consideration along with you, though, so you’ll have to trust Me. Just please don’t stop coming to Me even when–especially when–you’re angry.”
One of those books about patience that I read was called Waiting, and it’s by Ben Patterson. In it, he writes, “At least as important as the things we wait for is the work God wants to do in us as we wait.” As much as I don’t want to admit it, he’s right. Even in the slow times, especially in the hard times, God is working in us. Jesus is shaping our hearts, and the answers will really come in His time.