A study on what I want my life to be filled with

Category: Patience

Patience in Affliction

Affliction as defined by Merriam-Webster: a cause of persistent pain or distress; great suffering; the state of being afflicted by something that causes suffering.

It sounds almost impossible to have patience during times of affliction or tribulation, but that’s exactly what Paul challenged the Romans and us to do.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12, NIV

These ten words seem so simple but putting them into action is so difficult. By ourselves they will seem impossible, but Jesus said, “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

I think that’s the beauty of God. When we are at our wits’ end and think we have nowhere else to turn and nothing we have tried works, he looks at us and says, “child, all things are possible with me.” When we are in a situation that is filled with affliction, we can turn to God with all our impatience and distress and he will show us how with him it is possible to be patient and endure.

My affliction is being away from my friends and family right now. I am an extrovert, I need people, I thrive when I am around them being social. This time of quarantine is the exact opposite of what makes me thrive. But turning to God, I know he will tell me, “With me all things are possible, in all your affliction I am here. I am still God. I am still worthy.”

Let this be a reminder that nothing is too hard for God. He is more patient than we will ever be, so he knows how to help us through any situation. ‘Through’ being the key word here, we are never stuck forever in our affliction, we are walking through it with God.

(Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay)

Acting out Patience

As I sit at home, quarantined like the rest of you, I have been wondering more and more how to live out my faith when I can’t physically be with people. I am usually an active person, so being confined to my home has given me a lot of time to think. This verse doesn’t say anything about needing to be out and about to be a child of God or even look like one. It is about how we need to behave every day, no matter where we are or who we are with.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12

First, we are God’s chosen people. We have been selected to represent God here on earth and to look like him to those around us. We have been set apart from the rest of this world and we are dearly loved. I don’t think people hear that enough in general. You are dearly loved! With a love that is unlike any here on earth.

Second, because we are God’s children, we are holy and loved, we need to put on some different “clothes,” so we don’t look so much like the world around us. God wants us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. One of the best ways to know how to live out any of these attributes is to spend time with the one who embodies them best, God. Since we are talking about patience, I’m sure we all have opportunities every day to ask God for his help in developing our patience. Patience to work from home when our families are either interrupting us or just presenting a good excuse not to get anything done. Patience when you have eaten or made the same meal every week for the last two months. Patience when your neighbor is doing yard work and you just want some peace and quiet. God gives us plenty of opportunities to practice patience, the hard part is putting it into practice and being patient. Ask God for help when you feel your patience slipping away and remember it’s something you must to “put on” daily, just like your pants.

( Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash )

Waiting to be King

What did you dream about becoming when you grew up? A firefighter or a police officer, a doctor, or an astronaut perhaps. When David was a child, he was anointed and told that he would grow up to be king! I don’t know about you, but that was never on my list of career choices. If someone would have told me what I would grow up to do, and if it was something as important as being king, I don’t think I would have been able to wait. But wait is exactly what David did. Not only did he wait patiently for his turn to be king, but he was employed by his current king, Saul.

According to the laws of his time the first-born son was to be next in line to the throne, which wasn’t David. David was best friends with Jonathan, Saul’s first-born son, which means for David to be king Jonathan would be dead. What a blow! Knowing he had been anointed to be the future king over his best friend and that Jonathan and all his brothers would be dead for that to happen. That’s a harsh sentence. That time came about 15 years later with the death of the king and all his sons. David lamented for them.

In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The Lord said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” “To Hebron,” the Lord answered. So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

2 Samuel 2:1-4a

As we talk about patience this month, David is another great example. He was given a promise that may have looked impossible and even improbable, but as we know, nothing is impossible with the Lord. It may be hard to wait right now, but in the end God’s plans are always the best.

( Photo by Paweł Furman on Unsplash )

Joseph: From Hated Younger Brother to Second in Command

Have you ever tried to tell someone about a dream you had, and they laughed at your explanation? I dream often and when I try to explain them to my husband, most of the time he is thoroughly confused. It is typically hard to explain dreams once you are awake, unless you are someone who keeps a dream journal. That wasn’t the case for Joseph. He had a dream and explained it to his brothers very well. The only problem was that Joseph’s explanation had all his brothers bowing down to him, the youngest of the brothers.

Joseph was seventeen when he had this dream:

He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

Genesis 37:6-7, NIV

His brothers had already hated him because he was the favorite son, and this only added to their hatred of him.

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers, “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

Genesis 37:9, NIV

This time his brothers were jealous and looked for an opportunity to get back at him.

Their opportunity came when they were all grazing their father’s flocks and Joseph came up to check on them. They seized Joseph, threw him in a cistern, and then decided to sell him to some passing merchants while they covered his robe in blood to make it look like an animal had killed him.

Joseph was sold again in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. Because God was with him, Joseph was eventually put in charge of the whole house. Potiphar’s wife soon tried to seduce Joseph and got him thrown in prison. But God was with him there as well and he was shown favor and put in charge of all the prisoners. He helped some inmates interpret their dreams and in return expected them to mention him to Pharaoh. Unfortunately for Joseph, they forgot, so he was still stuck in prison. Finally, Pharaoh had a dream that none of his servants could interpret and he was informed of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. Pharaoh sent for Joseph who was able to accurately interpret the dream.

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole lad of Egypt.

Genesis 41:41-43, NIV

I love that God never left Joseph through his whole journey. From being thrown in a cistern as a teenager, to being wrongfully imprisoned and forgotten, to being second-in-command, God was always with him giving him favor and success in whatever he did.

After Pharaoh freed Joseph, a famine struck the land. Because Joseph had correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, Egypt had plenty of grain. Joseph’s brothers, still living in Canaan, had run out of food. They traveled to Egypt to buy grain, not knowing that Joseph was still alive, let alone in charge, and they bowed down before him as they came. Joseph revealed his identity to them and how God had orchestrated everything so that he could take care of them. With this act, Joseph’s dream had finally come to pass.

How could Joseph be so patient through all these events? Joseph had his dream when he was 17, entered Pharaoh’s service at 30, and was around 39 when his family came to buy grain during the famine.  That’s 22 years of patience! That’s a long time to wait for the fulfillment of a dream, literally. The most important theme I see in this story is how God was always with Joseph, no matter where he was or what was going on. God never left him. That is so comforting when we are all struggling to wait for our dreams to be fulfilled, or waiting for anything actually. God is with us through it all. Patience seems to be part of God’s plan, more often than not, so I guess it’s something we are going to have to keep working on.

( Photo by Evi Radauscher on Unsplash )

Prayer in times of Anguish

Have you ever prayed for something so long that you were sure God stopped listening? I think that must be how Hannah felt when she was praying for a child, year after year after year. Her patience must have been running thin.

There was a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, several, and Hannah had none. Every year when they would go to worship and offer sacrifices. Peninnah would provoke and torment Hannah until she wept and wouldn’t eat anymore, all because she had no children. This must have gone on for many years because it mentions that Peninnah had sons and daughters. I can imagine that Hannah was devastated. All she wanted was a son and the waiting was agonizing.

And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

1 Samuel 1:11

Then Eli the priest saw her praying and thought she was drunk, but she explained that she was praying out of her great anguish and grief.

Praying and waiting on the Lord can be so difficult sometimes. It can feel as if our prayers are going no further than the ceiling, but God hears all our prayers, no matter how small. Sometimes he is just waiting on us to be ready for the answer.

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her.

1 Samuel 1:17-19

God had heard her! He spoke through Eli straight to her heart and she was filled with joy! So much so that she worshiped the Lord again before they all went home. Answers to prayer are so sweet. They really do fill your heart and face with joy. Although Hannah was continually provoked by Peninnah, she never stopped praying.  She was being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12), and God answered her prayer with a resounding yes!

I would encourage you to read through Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 if you have a few moments. Also, keep praying, be patient, and keep praying. Sometimes the answer comes quickly, and other times like with Hannah or Abraham, it takes many years. But, God is faithful!

( Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash )

Abram to Abraham

People are easier to relate to when they are going through similar things as us so I figured it was about time for a character study and since I think we could all use some encouragement we’ll focus on people who have a LOT of patience. This post is a bit longer, but be patient 😉

Let’s start in good old Genesis with Abram. God came to him and called him to a new land and gave him a promise of making him into a great nation. He was 75 at the time and had no children.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 12:1-4, NIV

Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.

God called and Abram went. He trusted that God had a better plan for him where he was headed than where he had been. He ended up in Egypt for a while during a severe famine and from there went to the Negev where he decided to part ways with his nephew, Lot. They each needed enough land to support their herds and families. Lot went toward the Jordan and Abram went to live in the land of Canaan where the Lord spoke to him once again.

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land for I am giving it to you.”

Genesis 13:14-17, NIV

Abram did, but he still had no children.

The Lord spoke to him again and this time, “Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” Genesis 15:2-4, NIV

Abram believed God, but still… no children. Then, his wife had the bright idea to give him her servant as a wife so she could bear children to Abram. They had been living in Canaan for 10 years which means he was at least 85, if not a bit older because of his time in Egypt. So, 10 years after God spoke to Abram the first time about his offspring, he might have a chance! And conceive she did, but this was not God’s ultimate plan. Abram had been patient to a point but when he tried to take matters into his own hands things got messy. When he was 86 years old Ishmael was born. When Abram was 99 years old the Lord appeared to him and spoke again.

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17:3-5, NIV

God also said to Abraham,

As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her.

Genesis 17:15-16a, NIV

A year later Isaac was born! The promise God had given Abram had been fulfilled! It only took 25 years!! Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Talk about patience! It would be quite a task and a test of patience to hold onto a promise and dream for 25 years when it seemed like there was no progress being made. I don’t know if some of you have unspoken promises in your heart or dreams that you want to give up on, but I would encourage you to lean into the Lord and trust his timing. If it took Abraham, one of the fathers of our faith, 25 years to receive his promised offspring, who knows how long we each must wait for our promise to come to pass. But, just like God knew it was better for Abram to leave Haran and live in Canaan, and that Ishmael was not the promise he had set aside for Abraham, God knows what and when is best for us. Trust that God knows what he is doing. He’s way bigger and has been doing this a lot longer than any of us, so I think he knows best.

(Image by ArtTower from Pixabay)

Patience is a Virtue

I think we have all heard the saying, “patience is a virtue,” but I’m not sure we all know what that means. I didn’t know or understood what that phrase meant until I started looking into what a virtue was. A virtue is a: behavior showing high moral standards. Apparently, Aristotle came up with 12 virtues and there are 7 in the bible.

Here are Aristotle’s:

  1. Courage – bravery
  2. Temperance – moderation
  3. Liberality – spending
  4. Magnificence – charisma, style
  5. Magnanimity – generosity
  6. Ambition – pride
  7. Patience – temper, calm
  8. Friendliness – social IQ
  9. Truthfulness – honesty, candidness
  10. Wit – humor, joy
  11. Modesty – ego
  12. Justice – sense of right / wrong, indignation

And the 7 from the bible are:

  1. Chastity
  2. Temperance
  3. Charity
  4. Diligence
  5. Patience
  6. Kindness
  7. Humility

There are only a few that cross over between the two lists and patience happens to be one of them. If both the bible and Aristotle agree that patience is a virtue we need to have, perhaps we should take it a bit more seriously.

I like Wikipedia’s definition of patience:

Patience (or forbearance) is the ability to endure difficult circumstances such as perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding in annoyance/anger; or forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can have before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

As we all deal with the different ways our governments are handling this virus outbreak, patience is going to be one of the most important virtues we put into practice. I find that my patience is being stretched very thin, so this is very timely for me. Times are very uncertain right now as we all try to balance some sort of normal life, but with God and patience on our side we can make it through anything. Let’s see what April has to offer as we look at what it means to be patient.

( Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash )

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