What comes to mind when you hear the phrase – “Love is patient” – do you say the next part of the verse, “love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4)? Perhaps you nod your head in agreement, think of someone who embodies this in your life, or shake your head and say “not always”. Maybe you don’t focus on the love part, but on the patience and you think, “For how long?” or “It’s overrated.”
Many of us, myself included, do not like to wait for things most of the time. We know patience is a virtue, but it is often an elusive one. We have become a society of instant gratification – Instagram (it is even part of the name!), Facebook, Twitter, smartphones – we have access at our fingertips to whatever we want. This often ends up taking the place of what we need. Time. Experience. Relationships. Real connections with others. We find ourselves increasingly connected in today’s world, yet so very lonely at the same time. (Side note: There is a great video you can watch on this subject. The Innovation of Loneliness.)
So what does being connected (or not) have to with love or patience? Everything. Especially when we believe God is love and our Provider – meaning we trust in Him to supply our needs. How many times has God answered your prayer request with “Wait”, “Not now”, or “Not yet”? I know I even have some in my “still waiting” pile.
I used to get frustrated by this pile. By these seemingly unanswered requests and asking God over and over, “When God? Why are you taking soooo long? Look what You did for ____, why not for me?” It was especially irksome when someone else got something I asked for – I mean, come on, I know I asked first, why do they get to jump in line?!
And every time I would let my frustration get the best of me, I can imagine God was just shaking His head and smiling at me.
“My precious Carrie. Must I remind you again that I have great plans for you? Won’t you let Me reveal them to you in My time? I promise you, it will be the perfect moment for you to receive what I have for you.”
Sigh. Yes, God, thank You for reminding me (again). And I apologize now for tomorrow or the next day when You’ll have to remind me once (or twice) more.
Thank God for His patience. And that He shares His patience with us! I have found it interesting that when I ask God for patience, I am often put into situations that could be frustrating. When I remember I have God’s patience and love, though, I am able to choose to step back and consider other viewpoints which help me practice patience – whether with me, others involved, or both.
Lately, when I find myself getting frustrated and impatience with God, I stop and listen. And when I sense God asking me to wait, I do. Well, at least I really try hard to wait; I am still a work in progress, you know.
Those times that I am able to wait have been insightful and I am finding value in the experience of waiting.
I let go of anxiety because I know God is faithful to answer, even if it not what I expect.
I grab hold of anticipation because I know God is faithful to answer, often exceeding my expectations.
I let go of frustration because I know it will not change anything.
I grab hold of patience because I know it will change me.
I let go of impatience and rushing because I know God’s timing is perfect.
I grab hold of savoring each moment because I know God’s timing is perfect.
I let go of ‘lazy waiting’, just sitting around until God does something eventually.
I grab hold of ‘active waiting’, moving forward because God is doing something now.
I read past those first three words “love is patient” and see what else God has in store…. “love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Patience looks a lot different after all that than it did with just those first three words. It is full of goodness, compassion, love and grace. And isn’t that what God wants for us – to be full of goodness, compassion, love and grace?
If these are the rewards for waiting, then I say bring it on!
(Just don’t make me wait too long, okay, Lord? 😉 )