Lately, I have begun to notice an alarming trend in myself. I am ashamed that there have been times that one of my children would ask me for something while I was busy, to which I would respond, “in a minute”. If that child were to exhibit impatience, the child would be corrected. Yet there have also been times I have asked my children for things, & when they said, “in a minute” they would also be corrected for that. Is that not a tremendous double-standard? If I expect my children to be patient with me, should I not be equally patient with them? Now, I am not saying my children should be allowed to blow-off requests that I make of them until they, “feel like it”, but I should also not expect them to automatically drop everything the minute I ask something of them, any more than it would be fair for them to expect that of me.
What is even more alarming, is that I noticed this trend when I realized that this was EXACTLY what I had been doing to God. I am so proud of God’s patience with me. So honored that He gives me chance after chance that I do not deserve (2 Peter 3:9). As a parent, I cannot fathom God’s endless patience. Phrases like, “Will she never learn?!” “Haven’t you already made that mistake 10 times?!” And of course, “You KNEW better!” automatically come to my mind.
Yet at the same time, how patient am I with God (Psalm 37:7)? I expect Him to give me chance after chance, to give me a learning curve & time to accomplish my goals, yet how much time am I willing to give Him? When I have a need my life, how long do I give God to fulfill that need?
I have found myself praying heart-wrenching, stomach-aching, tears flowing prayers to my Heavenly Father, & I seem to feel that the more urgent the situation, the more heart-felt my prayer, the faster God should answer my prayer (& of COURSE He should answer it the way I want it answered). But what is time to God Almighty who understands my situation, & my NEEDS, better than I ever could? Psalm 40:1 reminds us, “I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.”
A dear sister recently reminded me of I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The Greek word used for, “temptation” in this verse can actually be translated trial or temptation. That would mean that this verse would apply to any time that we are being tempted to sin, OR are struggling with a trial we are going through in our lives. God WILL NOT put more on us in either one of these situations than we can bear.
Like me, I’m sure most people often wish that God didn’t think as highly of us as He does. I’m sure my kids often think the same things about me,especially when they look at their worldly friends and see how much higher my expectations are of them than the expectations of their friend’s parents. But I KNOW my kids, I know what they can and cannot handle.
God knows us the same way, He knows what we can and cannot handle, & He will be there for us when our strength begins to fade. If we are going through a trial in our lives we MUST take it to God in prayer, then we must be patient while He brings us through that trial (Romans 12:12). If it is taking longer than we feel like it should for a situation to be resolved, we can rest assured that we are not done learning and growing from that situation. Sometimes the highest mountains we climb in life are high because of the valleys we approached them out of.
How sweet are the moments of triumph in our lives when we know we were brought to that moment by the love and grace of God Almighty. How comforting to look back and see His hand patiently guiding us through the valleys and trials that we will inevitably encounter in our lives(Hebrews 6:15). However, to reach those moments we MUST lean on God, and on the wisdom of HIS understanding. We must put our trust, and our patience in Him.
We have such a precious opportunity before us right now, the start of a brand new year. 2011 is coming to an end, & I would encourage you to take a moment and reflect on this past year. Look back on your triumphs, and your valleys, & look for God’s hand patiently guiding you through. Look at where you are right now in your faith, in your patience with God’s working in your life & see if that has grown over this past year. Then look forward to the year ahead, a fresh start, & imagine where you want to be in your relationship with God at this time next year.
God loves us so much, & He is there for us through every step of the way. He will pick us up when we just can’t go anymore, but at the same time we must be patient with Him and understand that the only way we are strengthened is by persevering. Just like an athlete understands that they are not really gaining physical strength until they feel pain in their workouts, we don’t grow stronger in our faith until it hurts a little bit. As we approach 2012, may we all strive to reach ourmountain tops by patiently letting God’s hand guide is through the valleys.