“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
I could feel the old, familiar tension rising as I approached the traffic light: would I make it through before it turned red? If I didn’t make it, I’d have to stop and wait, losing precious seconds! Worry, impatience, discontent all started to flow.
Then the Spirit brought to mind the verses in Psalm 50 that I’d been meditating on, highlighting the privilege of giving thanks no matter what happened. “He who offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:23). This was followed by some insights on patience which came because the light did turn red and gave me a chance to think.
Patience is more an outcome than a quality: it flows from our relationship with Jesus. The more intimate our relationship is, the more patience will flow. This is because patience comes from knowing the character of God, from exalting Him in our minds and hearts, grasping ever more deeply how big, powerful, wise, just and merciful He is. It comes from knowing that He is in control and is working things out on His time table, not ours.
Patience comes from trusting Him instead of trusting our own judgment which leads to worrying. Patience comes from accepting that He is in control, protecting us from what is truly evil, developing our character, carrying us forward to His goals. It comes from laying aside the idea of getting our plans accomplished and seeking instead to join God in what He is doing. It comes from setting our hearts on things above. It comes from abiding in His love, obeying the Truth He has given us.
That is why there is no place in Scripture where we are told to pray for patience. Rather, we are told to be worshipers and confessors. When we exalt God for His greatness and power, and in the light of this, confess our lack of trust, our fears, our selfishness–and instead focus on Him, our impatience melts away in the light of Truth. So, when the traffic light turns red, instead of groaning, we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for what you are doing with this interruption. Thank you that you have a plan here.”
Romans 15:13 sums this up powerfully in Paul’s prayer for believers: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace [especially at traffic lights] as you trust in him [this is my part], so that you may overflow with hope by the power of his Holy Spirit.” [Where hope overflows, there is no room for impatience!]
Prayer: “Lord, today I want to walk in the Truth of your character. Help me to remember how great and good you are when I am tempted to be impatient. Help me to rest in the knowledge of your power, your perfection, your patience at work in my life and move through whatever comes, trusting you to work out what is best. Amen.”