Posted by: SandreS | April 24, 2010

Divine Patience: In a World of Impatience

The earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

… even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption … (Romans 8:23).

… then do we with patience wait for it (Romans 8:25).

Man is impatient, and we live in a society that clearly magnifies this impatience. As the saying goes, we want everything “yesterday.” Ours is an age that seeks instant fulfillment and gratification of its wants and desires.

Think about our instant coffee, potatoes and oatmeal. We design and invent things to alleviate the “wait.” Yes, we are in the “micro” age with its two-minute popcorn and ten-minute cakes. We are also in a “computer” age with the fast processing of information. Yet that is still too slow for us, so everything gets faster and faster. Computers of this year’s design will soon be too slow.

Everything is “rush, rush, rush” – “hurry,” “quick,” “faster,” and we hear a lot of those refrains, “Isn’t it ready yet?” We have a seemingly ever abundant supply of “fast food restaurants” and “convenience stores,” all to alleviate the “wait.” Even our posted speed limits are never quite fast enough. If the speed limit is raised on certain roadways, invariably the traffic will still be prone to exceed that limit; it is never really fast enough.

We need to ZIP our mail with a code. Come to think of it, better add four more digits to speed it a little faster – yeah, and a bar code would help too. “Faster, faster!” “Express,” “Overnight Delivery,” “Next Day Air,” “ASAP,” and “PDQ.”

To see our impatience illustrated, all we need to do is to observe our favorite store’s check-out line. Here we can view a sampling of our hustled impatience: people eyeing, almost frantically at times, the lanes around them for a shorter one. “Oh, no!” there is a price check, or the lady has to get check approval. We hear the huffs and sighs of intolerance. If you are there long enough you are likely to witness intended purchases left in carts in disgust. Our stores that are “in tune” with our nature proudly offer lines with “no waiting.” If there are customers in line, it is their policy to open another register. One chain of stores has a slogan that captures the nature of man: “Because America Can’t Wait.”

Our modern age is possibly more conscious of time than any generation before us. Arthur Custance, in his book Journey Out of Time, makes these insightful observations:

The more deeply embedded we become in the world of things, the more profoundly conscious we tend to become of time. One cannot have a pervasive concern with the three dimensions of space without being equally locked into the fourth dimension of time. It is not an accident that Western man has expanded so much energy perfecting clocks that parcel out time in smaller and smaller fragments upon which he places a more and more precise economic value. We have thus come to quantify almost the whole of life. Never in human history was man as conscious of the importance of material possessions and of the necessity of preserving physical life, while paying less and less attention to its spiritual values. And never in human history was man so concerned to keep a precise record of the passing of time.

There is a real bond between things and time, because things occupy space, and space and time are inextricably bound together. And those whose philosophy is materialistic are accordingly far more time conscience.

People who are absorbed in the material world are absorbed in a temporal world: those who hold THINGS lightly hold TIME lightly. Those who are unwilling to share their things find it difficult to share their time. Time is money: which is another way of saying time is things.

To own a watch is fine as a prestige symbol, but to be in bondage to it is a form of slavery no sensible man should allow. The idea of an alarm clock that wakes a man while his soul is still wandering abroad in his dreams is the height of folly.

Even in “Christian Teaching” we see the ideas of impatience being taught and promoted under the mistaken understanding of the biblical phrase “redeeming the time.” It is important for the believer to understand that the redemption of time has nothing to do with an attempt to get more hours into a day. “Redeeming the time” does not mean that we must move faster. It has to do with the transference of earth’s time-value into celestial-value by utilization of the Divine viewpoint, thus we redeem its worth for the ages to come!

Patience is a part of God’s Character

Patience is waiting during difficulty, inconvenience, trial and suffering. As we survey Paul’s teachings on patience, we find that patience is a part of God’s character.

… the God of patience … (Romans 15:5, King James Version).

… the God of endurance … (Romans 15:5, Concordant Literal Translation).

Just think: it was 4,000 years after Adam’s disobedience that God sent the Redeemer for his race. God is not, and never has been in a hurry.

Patience is produced by the power of God in the life of the believer.

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness (Colossians 1:11, KJV).

Being endued with all power, in accord with the might of His glory, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:11, CLT).

God uses tribulation to produce His patience in the life of the believer.

Knowing that tribulation works patience (Romans 5:3).

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience (James 1:3).

Trials and infirmities are the framework in which patience is transferred into practice. This is why Paul gloried in it.

And He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (II Corinthians 12:9-10).

Impatience is a mark of immaturity. When a family takes a trip immaturity invariably questions, “Are we there yet?” Immaturity can’t wait.

The infant, upon the first moment of “hunger pains,” begins to squirm and make cries of protest. Their immaturity cannot wait. Adults, on the other hand, can endure the “gnawing” of the stomach, awaiting the appointed “dinner” time.

Miles Stanford brings to our attention that “time” is one of the foremost principles of growth:

“It seems that most believers have difficulty in realizing and facing up to the inexorable fact that God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life … So many feel they are not making progress unless they are swift and constantly forging ahead.

Now it is true that the new convert often begins and continues for some time at a fast rate. But this will not continue if there is to be healthy growth and ultimate maturity. God Himself will modify the pace. This is important to see, since in most instances when seeming declension begins to set in, it is not, as many think, a matter of “backsliding.”

John Darby makes it plain that “it is God’s way to set people aside after their first start, that self-confidence may die down. Thus Moses was forty years. On his first start he had to run away. Paul was three years also, after his first testimony. We must get to know ourselves and that we have no strength. Thus we must learn, and then leaning on the Lord we can with more maturity [which can only come with time], and more experientially, deal with souls.”

Since the Christian life matures and becomes fruitful by the principle of growth much time is involved. Unless we see and acquiesce [submit] to this, there is bound to be a constant frustration, to say nothing of resistance to our Father’s development process for us.

Dr. A.H. Strong illustrates … “When God wants to make an oak, He takes an hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months … growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months, there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fiber is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June and July.

“Let’s settle it once and for all – there are no shortcuts to reality! A meteor is on a shortcut as it proceeds to burn out, but not a star, with its steady light so often depended upon by navigators. Unless the time factor is acknowledged from the heart, there is always danger of turning to the false enticement of shortcuts via the means of ‘experiences’ and ‘blessings,’ where one becomes pathetically enslaved in the vortex of ever changing ‘feelings,’ adrift from the mooring of scriptural facts.

“In regard to this subject George Goodman writes, ‘To taste of the grace of God is one thing, to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit and regular life, is another … Fruit ripens slowly; days of sunshine and days of storm each add their share. Blessing will succeed blessing, and storm follow storm before the fruit is full grown or comes to maturity.’

“In that the Husbandman’s method for true spiritual growth involves pain as well as joy, suffering as well as happiness, failure as well as success, inactivity as well as service, death as well as life, the temptation to shortcut is especially strong unless we see the value of and submit to the necessity of the time element; in simple trust resting in His hands, ‘being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). And, dear friends, it will take a long time! But since God is working [for the ages], why should we be concerned about the time involved?

“Graham Scroggie affirmed that ‘spiritual renewal is a gradual process. All growth is progressive, and the finer the organism, the longer the process …

“‘And it is from day to day. How varied these are! There are great days, days of decisive battles, days of crisis in spiritual history, days of triumph in Christian service … But there are also idle days, days apparently useless, when even prayer and holy service seem a burden. Are we, in any sense, renewed in these days? Yes, for any experience which makes us more aware of our need for God must contribute to spiritual progress …’”

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it (Romans 8:25).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 1995, 2010

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