Waiting: Perfecting the art of patience

Recently, a colleague, Dr. Hopelyn Brown, posted an intriguing statement on her Facebook page:

“Finish this sentence:
The best things in life are ______.”

Here is my response:

“The best things in life are worth waiting for. You have need of patience, after that you have done the will of the Lord, you might receive the promise.”

My comment brought to mind a previous blog entry that talked about learning to wait on the Lord with patience. I have modified the post and added a new poem at the end.

We begin with a statement from Brian Adams:

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”

As believers, perfecting the art of patience involves learning to wait on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm come to mind:

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV):

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the LORD;
be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Note this Biblical definition of patience which has also been translated endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord.

When we examine one of the words translated “patience”, we see a compound word meaning “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under. The verb form means to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure, suffer, tarry behind.

The root idea of the noun is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy — enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

James 5:11 provides an excellent example of the word for patience being used as a verb and as a noun. The New Living Translation offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait most often associated with Job:

11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

The Book of Job is a classic example of the principle of first usage and first spiritual principle, which highlights as particularly important the first time that a concept is mentioned in the Bible. E.W. Bullinger and other scholars believe the first book written was the Book of Job, composed by Moses. Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” was, indeed, a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles, one being that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” Although many believe “Patience is its own reward,” God also rewards patience, as so clearly noted in Job 42:10:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The statement that began our discussion also reminds us of that we are currently in a season where patience, a fruit of the Spirit, should be abounding. Not only must we know what season we are in, but we must also know where we are in this season. I recall a teaching series that drew a parallel between our life’s journey as believers and the journey of the Children of Israel into the Promised Land beginning at Gilgal, symbolic place of new beginnings. From there they move on to Jericho onward to Jerusalem, going all the way to Mount Zion, the highest elevation in that beautiful City of God.

As we journey through life, we perfect the art of patience or endurance or perseverance. Associated with this character trait is the idea of “waiting”—steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. We close with an original poem to capture the essence of where we are and what we are doing in this season.

Waiting in Gilgal

If a man die, shall he live again?
All the days of my appointed time
will I wait, till my change come.

Job 14:14

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

In the midnight harbor, place black as a raven,
Yielded and still in this new place of transition,
Seeking to do God’s will, in ready position,
To be launched from here to our desired haven.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

Groaning, travailing resounds from this place on earth,
In the birthing room where thoughts rise to the sublime;
Prolonged moments extend toward the fullness of time
Where agony precedes ecstasy in childbirth.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

To be raised from the tomb, released from the cocoon;
Exhausted, we yearn to escape and touch the sky,
To be freed from these quarters of the butterfly,
Where to be transformed at last can come none too soon.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

This place demands sacrifice and obedience:
Not like Saul in Gilgal, foolish and immature,
But like Caleb, who with age, had strength to endure,
Fulfilled all God’s will and claimed his inheritance,
Waiting in Gilgal. . .

One of my favorite passages related to waiting on the Lord comes from Isaiah 40:25-31, offered here by Esther Mui:

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