Instant Patience

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It’s obvious that I live in a society of instant gratification. I easily can get whatever I want…when I want it. Just the other day, I was making popcorn in the microwave and brewing a cup of tea in the Keurig when it hit me…I am a product of my society! I’m too busy to stop and pop the corn the old fashioned way. I don’t want to stop to boil water and then brew my tea…I’m on the run; I want what I want now.

These conveniences may not be the healthiest choices for me to make…but, I don’t think they are altogether wrong. At times, it’s my attitude that is wrong! I don’t think I’m alone in this though!  How many of you have…

  • Closed out of a website that took too long to download?

  • Deleted an app that took too long to open when you tried to open it the first time?

  • Complain about the slow driver in front of you?

  • Get angry when someone stops to ask a question when you’re on your way out the door?

  • Are frustrated by the person that needs your attention or help?

I think all of us may struggle with at least one of these things on any given day. It’s clear that this society has marked many of us with an unhealthy tendency toward impatience. If this impatient desire for instant gratification is working in our day-to-day lives, could it also be working its way into our spiritual lives as well?

There have been times that I sincerely seek the Lord for His guidance in my life. I want to see Him work in my heart…I want to be changed by Him. But, when that change doesn’t come within days, I become frustrated and wonder why God isn’t working. There were times I lost heart when I didn’t see the Lord act within a few hours of praying to Him for help.

The Lord really helped me see how I am trying to fit Him into my “instant-gratification-impatient” mold through studying the life of Abraham. In Genesis 11, Abraham has no children. In chapter 12 God promises Abraham, who is already 75 and beyond the years of childbearing, that he will have descendants.  As years pass in chapters 13 through 17, God tells Abe that his heir be one who “comes from his own body” (Gen 15:4 NASB). Yet, Abe takes things into his own hands and has a child with Sarai’s maidservant, Hagar (Gen. 16).  At this point in the story it’s easy for us to throw up our hands and scoff at Abraham’s foolishness. After all…GOD ALMIGHTLY has promised him descendants, why didn’t Abe just wait on God?

When Abraham is 99 years old, the Lord returns to him and makes him a promise. The promise is that Abe’s wife Sarah will bear him a child in the next year.

This is where conviction begins to settle into my heart! If you pay attention to the time phrases in these chapters, you can see that 24 years pass after God makes his original promise to Abraham. Can you imagine waiting 24 years for the Lord to fulfill a promise? It is after 25 years of waiting that Abraham sees Isaac , his son of promise, born.

In the 25 years leading up to Isaac’s birth, we see Abraham’s failures as he learns to trust in the Lord. We see him learning patience as he waits on the Lord to fulfill His promise.

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I’m sobered as I realize that I began my walk with the Lord only 20 years ago. Yet, I’m continually frustrated with the amount of time it’s taking my faith to grow into an “Abraham-sized” faith. But, today, instead of giving into the impatient frustration, I look at Abraham as my example and I begin to learn where to fix my eyes as I wait on the Lord.  Abraham teaches us that patience comes not from the things we see here and now, but from looking forward to what is ahead.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. (Hebrews 11:1, 8-12 ESV)

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Brooke Ritterbush is the Director of Transform Student Ministries. 

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