One of the big realizations that I had while I was at the retreat was that patience is a very large component of lived faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval.
Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
When you think of the patriarchs, you realize that patience + obedience = faith. It’s not an emotion. (God never asks us to generate emotions. Thinking we have to generate a certain emotion to be “good Christians” is one of the fast-tracks to hypocrisy. Let’s start by lying to God about how we feel! Yay! Good plan! Not.)
Abraham is the first example of faith in the Bible… God said, “I’ll give you descendants like the stars in the sky” and “leave home and go here”. Abraham left. But no kids. No kids. No kids. Eventually Sarah passed menopause and said, “Well – clearly no kids with me. But I have a handmaiden…” which shows you how “helping” God generally works out. Only a few thousand years of war in the Middle-East. Ja. No prob.
God reiterated His promise to Abraham, and Sarah had Abraham’s child. Obedience + patience = faith.
How about David? How many years did he wander around and hide in caves after he was anointed as Israel’s next king before Saul finally died? Patience. And obedience – because he could have offed Saul and catapulted to kingship decades before the crown came to him in God’s time. But he didn’t. He waited, and God blessed him beyond his wildest dreams.
That’s a crazy thing about faith… it is interwoven with trust. Trust that God will provide. And there you get another component – this time, an opposite. Trust wars with control. I might trust God perfectly to give me exactly what His will for me to have is, but sometimes I want what *I* want (and in my time too, thanks). Have you ever heard it preached that God answers our prayers with three possible answers? “Yes”, “Later”, and “I have something better for you”? *
There’s trust. Trust that God will come through in good time. Trust that God’s ways are better than our ways. Just … having faith that God will handle it, whatever “it” is.
Matthew 6:29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’
My pastor keeps a picture box of items of faith – times in his life where God has come through for him. I’ve always thought of it as a good witnessing tool, but at the moment, I’m thinking of it as an assistance to remember to be patient and obedient and honest – and to trust.
When I think about my own life, I could fill a box myself. The provision when I couldn’t see a way, after our son was born. My wedding ring. The t-shirt my husband wore to be re-baptized in. The screws from my foot – and a picture of me lifting 265lb, barefoot.
When I think about that and remember, the very first thing I want to do is beat myself up for not having the emotion of faith and not “feeling like” being patient. But I’m stopping myself. Because I remember, in those moments of struggle, I wasn’t peaceful and zen – I was sobbing at the foot of the cross. I was naked and honest and real – and I trusted, because there was no possibility of me taking control. The problems were insurmountable by human hands – and in every case, I was blessed beyond my wildest dreams.
So now, when the problems in my life are problems that the World (and my own human nature) encourage me to seize by the horns and wrestle to the ground, I have a choice. I can continue to try to take control – or I can learn to obey, be patient, and trust. It won’t be by human means. It won’t be in my time. And I *will* be blessed beyond measure.
And so, to God be the glory, great things He has done.
*I don’t know how that relates to praying for someone’s salvation, btw. How could there be something better? Is everyone whose salvation is requested eventually saved? If so, we need to start handing out pages of the telephone book at church services.