I am not a patient person.
Now, to be sure, I know that I should be, and sometimes I can even manage to fake it. I’ll say things like “God’s timing is perfect” or “I trust that God will work things out in His time” but I rarely believe it deep in my heart. Waiting is my least favorite thing! I hate red lights, long lines, buffering, pre-heating ovens, and pretty much anything else that requires any amount of time between “I want” and “I have.”
That said, my gut instinct (and sometimes my actual spoken feelings) is that being engaged is the worst possible thing that’s ever happened to me. Don’t get me wrong! I love Steph with every bit of my energy; my love for her gushes forth from the overflow of God’s love for me. But that’s just it… I love her so much, and I can’t wait to marry her. Well… technically I can (some would even say I have to), but I struggle to do so patiently. Not a moment goes by that I don’t wish were shorter. Have you ever really thought about how long it takes for a second to pass?! A billion nanoseconds. I’m expected to wait another 1.0368×10^15 of them till I get what I want. That’s 1,036,800,000,000,000 if you write it out. Life is so unfair.
All this waiting got me thinking: why is patience a virtue? We all know that waiting is a part of life, but why is it considered a good thing to be happy about waiting? Isn’t that the essence of patience? Being joyful about waiting? So I began to look into scripture. This is what I have learned.
Patience isn’t about being happy that something good hasn’t arrived yet. Patience, in the New Testament, is often talked about in the context of the end times. God is patient with us, delaying the destruction of wickedness for his desire that more people be saved. This doesn’t mean that God is happy that wickedness still exists in the earth, but that the salvation of His elect is worth the delay. We wait patiently for Christ’s second coming. This doesn’t mean we are happy that Jesus has not come back and brought with Him the end of suffering; it means that His return will be glorious enough to make it worth waiting for. The early church withstood persecution patiently, not fighting back or trying to take matters into their own hands. This doesn’t mean they were masochistic and enjoyed being stoned, hanged, crucified, fed to beasts, or slain for entertainment; it means they saw all those terrible things as worth enduring for the cause of Christ.
Waiting is hard for me not because I lack patience, but because I lack the understanding of how good what I wait for actually is! A lack of patience does the opposite of show how much I long for something, it shows that I doubt whether the something is worth waiting for! Patience doesn’t come from waiting, but from a knowledge of what you are waiting for. The better what you are waiting for, the more joy you feel as you wait for it; the joy comes not because you have to wait, but because you know it will be worth waiting for!
So, here’s my challenge for all of you who, like me, hate to wait: figure out what you are waiting for, figure out how much value the person, event, or thing you are waiting for really has, and deepen your appreciation for that thing. As you discover more and more about how worthy of waiting it is, the wait will seem less and less consequential.
For me, I am waiting for Stephanie to be my wife, and that’s worth a lifetime of waiting. How blessed I am to have only 12 days left till that becomes reality.