Just one technique to achieve persistence – zebra crossing: prayer
Just a way to be patient
By: Shawn McEvoy
The end of a thing is better than the beginning, and patience is better than pride. – Ecclesiastes 7: 8, NIV
Our older pastor came into the room to have a pre-arranged conversation with all of us older students. He wanted to share something with us as we went into the next stages of our lives.
Of all the applications and biblical wisdom available to him, what was his main concern? What advice did he want to give above all?
He first asked us to imagine where we would be in five, ten, 25 years. I am just coming to this 25th year; I am amazed at how different things have developed and how similar others are to my goals. but that is not the point.
Our pastor next told us that the one thing we should pursue more than any other … not holiness, not justice, not prayer … but patience. "Guys, raise your hand if you want to be a man of patience."
Okay, sure. Sounds good. Patience, yes, that could help me. Hand up.
"Great. I'll tell you something, boys, can I pray with you now? But be aware, only agree to this prayer if you are serious, if you really want patience. Because you know what it takes "To develop patience? Problems. Only problems – and the way you respond to them and trust God through them – can develop patience. You see? So I'm going to ask God to bring you all the problems now . Are you ready?"
For sure. Why not?
Oh boy. In retrospect, the last quarter of a century was by no means hell on earth, but it was certainly full of problems. Right now I have one that is forcing me to wait … and wait … and wait for an answer. I feel ashamed when I do a study of Abraham and how long he waited for God to make a direct promise because I can't imagine waiting longer than I already did. The only reason I continue to do this is the patience and wisdom that I have built up after going through previous problems and trials, the results of which make me wait.
What is the moral here? Be careful what you pray for? Hmmm … maybe … but I think I prefer the lesson in today's verse that patience (trusting God's way and waiting for His promise) is better than pride (my idea of the best way). It is really revealing to me to see these two concepts – patience and pride – as opposites. But that's exactly how this verse puts it. It suggests that patience is comparable to humility, and proud of the brother's instant gratification. And I think that makes sense. But why is patience better? Especially nowadays when there is so much to take? When is the most respected thing to reach for and try? What had convinced my pastor that the opposite was the most important lesson for sending young men into the world?
To be honest, I haven't quite figured that out yet. Fittingly, I am willing to be patient to attain wisdom. But I suspect it has something to do with what others see that our tested faith has worked in us, and with this annoying old verse from James:
Consider everything a joy, my brothers, when you come across various trials and know that the trials of your faith will bring persistence. And let perseverance achieve its perfect result, so that you are perfect and complete and nothing is missing (James 1: 2-4).
Only problems can bring patience; Only trials can test and realize faith. Only perseverance can lead to perfection.
And when I'm done, I'll be fine. At what time will I apparently even lose patience, what should I wait for if I'm not missing anything?
It sounds almost mystical, almost out of reach, at least until the end of my life or when I meet God. In the meantime, I just pray that the experience of any problem and the possible outcome will lead me to a calm, patient submission to God's perfect timing.
Overlap faith and life: Are you ready to pray a problem in your life? Why or why not?
Are you afraid that God will give you patience?
The temporary non-path of patience
Shawn McEvoy is the Director of Editorial for Salem Web Network and co-moderator of Video Movie Reviews from ChristianMovieReviews.com & CrosswalkMovies.com.
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