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 (Manna 47: The Body of Christ)
Patience in Waiting
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The world we live in is very fast paced. We demand computers with clocks that are so fast we are running out of prefixes to describe their speed. We are on the lookout for the internet service provider that can offer speedy download rates, as well as lots of bandwidth. People prefer cars with bigger and more powerful engines, so that they can get that surge of acceleration when the traffic light goes from red to green. Delivery services that offer one- or two-day shipping thrive in our society.

We have come to expect that things should be faster and done according to specification. Naturally, with everything speeding up, we have become progressively more impatient as people. While it may be acceptable to expect our perception of time to escalate with the pace of today, this kind of impatience cannot translate to our relationship with other people, and, in particular, our relationship with God.

Even though communication through email and phone calls have sped up the process of conveying information, the amount of time it takes for a person to process that information in his/her brain remains relatively constant. For instance, it takes the same amount of time for a person to burst out in a smile while reading a joke, an email, or a handwritten letter.

With this in mind, we have to re-examine our attitude towards patience in this fast-paced world. For starters, our ability to wait for something to happen is not an attribute that is antiquated or left behind in the dust.


One question to consider is “Why is it better to be patient than impatient?” First of all, impatience is a bit like being in denial of the fact that some things take a set amount of time to occur and cannot be expedited.

For instance, in spite of genetic engineering, it still takes fruit trees years to grow and a few months to bear ripe fruit. An experienced farmer understands this and waits patiently for the fruit to ripen. Someone less experienced may pick the fruit early and find not only that the fruit is unripe and sour but also that he wasted his effort on harvesting a crop that was not ready.

The Bible tells us that God makes all things beautiful in His time. If we are unwilling to wait for a particular event in our lives to come to fruition, we run the risk of ruining the beautiful plans God has for us.

Consider Abraham’s wait for his promised son. God promised childless Abraham at the age of seventy-five that he would be the father of a great nation (Gen 12:2). Abraham waited and waited until he was eighty-five, and then he and his wife decided to take the matter into their own hands. The result: Ishmael was born to Abraham through Sarah’s maidservant.

But according to God’s promise, Sarah gave birth to Isaac when Abraham was one hundred years old. The situation soon became very delicate, and Abraham had to make the decision to send Ishmael away because of the rising conflict between Sarah and her maidservant.

Even though God did grant Abraham the son that He had promised, the glorious anticipation of Isaac’s birth was clouded over with the shame of sending away another child, and all because of Abraham’s impatience.

This serves as a reminder to us that when we “force” an event to occur prematurely, the result is not as good as if we had waited for the situation to mature on its own or take its natural course.

The Bible also gives us concrete reasons why patience triumphs over impatience: “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (Prov 14:29).

An impatient person will rush through a matter in order to achieve the end result sooner. A person who is patient gives himself time to think a matter through before he acts. We know that when we think before we act, our actions are more thorough and our speech more intelligent. Hasty actions yield results of poor quality, and we end up spending more time fixing our mistakes than if we had spent the extra time to think things through beforehand. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of remedy.

Furthermore, patience is considered a virtue of the strong in character and not a crutch of the weak-willed. This is an attitude that is counterintuitive based on our experiences in society and merits a reminder from time to time.

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (Prov 16:32). Warriors are individuals that are highly trained and very brave. They act only out of duty and do not dabble in petty matters. Likewise, developing patience is a process that requires self-discipline and constraint. One who is able to complete this training is as strong in character as a warrior is skilled in battle.


Even though being patient is more beneficial than being impatient, it does not mean it isn’t frustrating to wait for something you really want to happen to happen. It is discouraging when something we plan goes awry and events fall out of our control, often forcing us to postpone, or even cancel, our plans. We often pray to God for this and this to happen as soon as possible or at a time we specify. When our prayers are not answered to our expectation, we feel like God has left us out of His care. Let’s think about this a little more, though.

Remember those stories from your childhood about a person who rubs a lamp and this genie pops out and offers him three wishes? Of course, the person thinks this is his lucky day and makes his demands. Wouldn’t it be nice if God operated in a similar fashion and granted us everything we prayed for?

The answer is, of course, no. In those genie stories, what almost always ends up happening is that the person making the wishes muddles up the first two wishes and uses the third wish to undo his errors.

Also, consider a scenario in which a group of near-sighted friends travel together to an unfamiliar place. Which person would most likely be the designated navigator? Certainly not the most myopic person! The group would pick the one with the sharpest vision to read all the signs and lead the group.

In comparison to God, our foresight is near blind. God has the view of eternity; we can’t even see beyond the next second. God knows the whole universe like the back of His almighty hand, and none of us can profess to know the entire terrain of our earth. Given this, why would we insist on our timetable and plans more than submitting to God’s timetable and plans?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:9). This being so, we may lay our frustrations to rest and patiently wait for God’s timetable to play out its course. We need not feel discouraged that something did not occur at the time we wanted it, because we know that God’s foresight will ensure that everything will occur at the optimal time.

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb 6:12).

While we wait on God’s time, we should continue to abide in the Lord by keeping His commands and remaining prayerful. Trusting in God’s love and impeccable foresight is a source of joy during our time of watching and waiting.


We may discover that even the most patient person has his limits. At some point, the waiting period needs to end. How do we know at what point we should just “give up” on waiting and move on without the object of our longing?

Look at the question from another angle: what defines how much patience we have? Answering this question will help us delineate where our patience runs out.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” (Gal 5:22)

This verse tells us that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it is something that is evident in a person who has the Holy Spirit. We can gauge our fullness of the Spirit by how evident these characteristics are in our lives. The more we allow the Spirit to guide us, the more love, joy, peace and patience we have. In other words, the degree of our patience is directly related to the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Our patience runs out when the movement of the Holy Spirit weakens. If upon self-examination we find that we lack in patience, this finding also indicates that we are lacking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Chronic impatience is a symptom that calls our attention to a weakened spirituality. This can be remedied with vigilant prayers and petition to God, asking Him to fill us with His Spirit. Naturally, when we are filled with God’s Spirit, the line at which our patience runs out disappears.

The extent to which we can endure and wait is most governed by how much assurance we have that what we are waiting for will occur. To illustrate, let’s consider the scenario where we are waiting for a bus to arrive. Suppose the bus is running late, and you and the other would-be passengers start to wonder, will it ever show up? Five minutes go by, ten minutes go by, and one by one, passengers will leave, starting with those with the least faith in the public transit system, ending with the person who has the most faith that the bus will come.

The level of a person’s belief that the bus will come dictates the amount of time he is willing to wait. Likewise, the amount of faith we put in God’s provision is directly related to how long we are willing to wait on His schedule. Why can we believe that God will grant us what we need in a timely manner? Something to think about is all the times in the past when God did not grant what we wanted at the time we wanted, and recall how He guided us in a way we did not expect.

            Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 6-7)

All of us, upon careful introspection, will find that God very frequently provides for us in ways that exceed our expectation. Furthermore, if we lovingly submit to God’s commands, we will always remain in His careful protection. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

By recalling God’s blessings and remembering that He always looks out for the benefit of His children, we have every assurance that although He may not provide for us in the way we want, ultimately His provision is the best. When God appears on the scene later than we expect, we should not be the ones who gave up on Him, like the passengers who didn’t think the bus would ever arrive. Instead, we are able to wait because we know He will come to our aid.

So the question we posed, “Where is the line where I can stop waiting?” now becomes, “How do I push that line to the horizon, where I am willing to submit to God’s will?”

In Hebrews 11, we read about the patriarchs and prophets, whose faith knew no boundaries. They believed and lived by God’s promises to the day they died. Some never saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to them in their lifetimes, and yet they believed.

Our patience is bound by our faith in God’s promises. When our patience runs out while waiting for God to show us His way, it means we have lost faith in God. While it is not easy to endure the seemingly eternal time it might take for something we want to happen, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2), will give us the strength to be patient.

Basically, the length of time we are willing to wait for God boils down to whether we truly believe in our hearts that God will fulfill our requests, and whether our hearts are open to the fact that God may fulfill our requests in an alternative way, and perhaps even at an alternative time.


Just because we eagerly anticipate the next technological gadget does not mean we ought to apply this same sense of impatience to our expectations from God. Some things just take time to come to maturity, and to show restraint while waiting demonstrates strength of character and keen understanding.

To rush a matter is to invite trouble, and very often the result is not optimal. God knows what the optimal time is, so we should not presume to know more than He does by jumping the gun. Rather, we can rely comfortably on His omniscience and omnipotence to provide us with all we need. Since God will always provide for those who love Him, we will find the strength to wait for His provision through the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The only boundaries we have are the ones delineated by our lack of faith and insufficient movement of the Holy Spirit. Through constant prayer, we can invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us more fully and cultivate a life in which we have faith in God’s love for us.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12:12). Let the world rush by, and let others chase after the changing winds. Let the pace of life around us spin itself into a frenzy, faster and faster, leading to a whirlpool that instead of propelling up, sucks down.

In a society where the demand for speed results in unhealthy compromises, let us remember that when we patiently allow room in our lives for our Lord, we will find our hopes fulfilled in His time.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church