In my life, I have prayed for patience in two ways:
- Lord, will you help me be patient?
- Lord, give me patience and will you give it to me now?
The danger of the first request always comes from how God usually answers that prayer. He usually responds to that prayer by sending people and circumstances in your life to stretch your patience in ways you didn’t think possible.
The absurdity of the second request is that it reveals our lack of understanding of sanctification. We want life-change immediately. We don’t realize that God will work patience in us, but it is a process.
God doesn’t grant patience, he works on producing it.
King Solomon talked about the importance of patience.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (Ecc. 7:8).
It takes a lot more patience to wait out to the end of something than its beginning. But enduring towards the end reveals the reward of patience. Solomon says it is better to be patient than to be proud. What does patience have to do with pride?
If I am impatient, that means that I think I know better than God. That would be the epitome of pride. When I am unwilling to wait on God’s gift and timing, I assume that I know better than God.
Wanting the right thing at the wrong time is ultimately wanting the wrong thing.
To be patient means to be humble. I am trusting in God’s timing.
When my sons and I would clear out our backyard, I would transport brush in the back of my pickup. I would put one of my boys in my lap and let them steer the truck around. After a while, they began to think they could drive all on their own.
“Dad, can I drive your truck on the main road?”
If I loved their happiness in that moment, I would let them. But if I loved them more than I loved their immediate happiness, I would say no. It’s not that it’s a bad request. It’s a logical question. It’s a good desire but it’s just at the wrong time.
Sometimes I get frustrated with God because he isn’t acting as quickly as I would like him to act. Maybe it is because he is a good Father who knows the best time.
The timing of the gift is just as important as the content of the gift.
Am I willing to be patient on his gifts and on his timing? It is better to be patient than proud.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.