I was watching a few college & pro football games this weekend while decompressing after Thanksgiving. Just about every other commercial during the time-outs was for some electronic gadget which was “better,” “faster,” and more “powerful” than any of the previous models. Every laptop, smart phone, tablet & wireless provider promised speedier downloads and more rapid access to the information you want. While technology provides tremendous advantages that was the stuff of science fiction only a few years ago, its also created a pervasive sense of impatience. It seems that we aren’t willing to wait for anything anymore. I was sitting in a drive-thru with Ryan and Leia last night and found myself becoming more and more annoyed by the guy two cars in front of us who didn’t seem to know what to order and then had a seemingly endless conversation with the cashier. It felt like we sat in the line forever! Even Leia was telling me to honk the horn! But I suspect that if we’d have timed our wait, it probably was probably well under 10 minutes. And I know what you’re probably thinking… 10 minutes at the drive-thru! Wow! It’s exactly the attitude I had!
Our fast-paced world has conditioned us to be in a hurry all the time. Think about it. It used to take over a week for a package to come in the mail. Now, Fedex can get it to us overnight. Photos can be printed in the store in less than an hour, or if you don’t want to wait that long, there’s a kiosk to print them yourself. If you don’t have time to wait on a cashier, many stores have a self-check-out station. And for a lot of people, email is just way too slow. Texts come straight to your phone in your purse or pocket and demand an immediate response.
We’ve gotten accustomed to having our desires gratified instantly with ‘more,’ ‘faster’ and ‘now!’ However that attitude is completely contrary to the biblical virtue of perseverance. Perseverance is not about ‘now;’ It’s about later. It’s requires us to take the long view of things and being willing to wait for them to unfold.
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Romans 8:25 (NAS)
The Greek word for perseverance in the New Testament is translated into several English words, including “steadfastness,” “endurance” and “patience.” (The NIV version of the above verse says “but if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”) Investigating the nuances of the original word gave me a new insight. Most of the time we think of perseverance only as ‘endurance’… that is, working, striving and choosing to keep going regardless of the difficulties. While that’s definitely one aspect of it, perseverance also involves a great deal of waiting, and choosing to be faithful when nothing seems to be happening. Think about Moses who spent forty years tending sheep before God chose to reveal Himself. Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth waited for years for sons to be born. Joseph endured rejection and imprisonment, yet remained committed to the Lord when God appeared to have forgotten him. How many of us could faithfully mimic their level of perseverance?
Impatience can have disastrous effects, causing us to drift in our commitment to the Lord or get tangled by temptations. We can become too easily bored, distracted, or worse, irritated because it seems to take too long for God to answer prayer or to ‘get on with the program.’ Such inability to wait can cause us to make bad decisions and serious mistakes that can sidetrack us for years.
God isn’t in a hurry. He doesn’t ‘overnight’ His work in our lives, nor speed us through the process of maturity. If we want His best, we have to adjust ourselves to His timetable, and that can mean a lot of waiting… and a lot of perseverance. But just because we can’t see anything unfolding doesn’t mean God isn’t at work behind the scenes. So while you wait for Him to reveal His plans, choose to stay with the Lord, even (and perhaps, especially) when life seems boring, mundane, and nothing appears to be happening. Commit yourself to persevere in faith, and allow God to set the pace for your life. He will lead you in His time.
… the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!